It can be difficult to set your business apart from other companies offering similar products and services if all you focus in on is what you are selling. The key factor and one that is often overlooked by companies today is to differentiate yourself by changing the relationship your employees have with your customers.
Creating a culture of customer service is not a single goal or an item to be checked off a “must accomplish” list. This is an ongoing, sustained and central message that has to come from the top of the company and spread to and throughout every employee at every level.
The good news is that this is a culture that attracts the top people. Everyone wants to feel good about their job, and providing top customer service and seeing the role they play in the success of the company through the positive feedback from customers is a powerful motivator for continual improvement and staying with a company.
To get started in building a focus on customer service extraordinaire in your business, even an online business, here are some of the central elements to consider:
- Be explicit – make customer service a central part of your business. This means focusing on customer service in the hiring process, onboarding, employee reviews and evaluations and in staff meetings, training and even in rewards or incentive programs.
- Talk to customers – having a way to get feedback directly from customers is essential. Online surveys, random calls, invitations to focus groups, or emails from managers asking about the customer service are all ways to find out how consumers see your company with regards to customer service.
- Bring in experts – coaches, consultants and professionals in customer service are all resources to bring into the company. These professionals should work with all levels of the company and share concise, specific messages about customer service in your organization.
- Recognize exceptional efforts – rather than just focusing on sales, consider adding recognition to team members for going above and beyond to help customers. This could be through direct observation by a manager or team member, or through feedback from a customer. This is not necessarily a formal program, but more of an explicit recognition when it happens.
- Generate ideas within the team and do something with them – a suggestion box or a discussion at a staff or team meeting is a good start, but planning a way to incorporate good suggestions or to improve and expand suggestions encourages everyone to participate. Make the suggestions public and ask for feedback, implementation strategies, and how to expand the idea. The more the team feels ownership, the more they embody and embrace the customer service changes.
As with any change, there will be different levels of engagement. By encouraging everyone to have ownership in the customer service culture and making it a top-down priority, your customers will experience a difference.