Every company claims that they value customer service, and every company says they are good at it. But if you’re like us or the many people we speak to, you know this is horribly untrue. When you consider that customer service—whether internal or external—is the lynch pin of success for nearly every business, you would think it would be held to the highest standards and valued above all else.
Take a moment and think about your last customer service experience. How did you feel when you left, or hung up the phone? Did it add to or subtract from your day? Did you feel truly appreciated? Or do you even recall much about it? An experience you don’t remember is only slightly better than a poor one.
If time is taken to explore what customers actually expect, it really isn’t very much. There are plenty of surveys and studies show that plainly enough. They want their experiences to be real, respectful, and reasonable. They expect an evenhanded and honest effort in solving any issues they may have or making accommodations.
Sounds simple enough to provide, right? Well that is because it is—it really is. Unfortunately, teaching it can be a little tricky. So we’ve decided to share a few tips that any leader should be thinking about—if they are not already—to develop best-in-class customer service.
- Service is not a Business skill—it’s a Life skill.
Many businesses try to teach customer service as a business skill—a tactic. Anyone that has ever been in a relationship knows that “Tactical Relationships” rarely work, and make no mistake—you are trying to establish a relationship. Teach values, principles and respect, not tactics.
- Exemplify it, Teach it, and then Exemplify it some more.
Like most development, some instruction is required. But how you treat your employees will be the best indicator of how you want them to treat your customers—and one-another.
- Be Intentional in Building Relationships.
Rejecting potential relationships should be considered among the highest offences within your organization. Relationships are by far the most powerful tool of any person or business anywhere in the world. If you do not impress upon your people its significance you will lose customers, employees and eventually you will lose money. But first, your organization will lose its culture. People are the point.
- Encourage and Incentivize Value-based thought.
Policies and procedures are necessary, but they’re not everything. Policies are there to protect you and to set a minimum standard. Policies are good, but most should be guidelines and few should be law. Teach your employees your organization’s values and then encourage them to Think 3D. If your team learns to think beyond their position—and even beyond the business—I assure you they will protect you from far more than any blanket policy will.
- Start Inside Out.
Starting inside when thinking about customer service may seem counterintuitive, but much like the airplane instructions we have all heard dozens of times, you must put your mask on first before you can help others. Give your people all you have, and it will be present in all they do.