Creating a culture of customer service excellence has never been more crucial. As my friend Charles McIntyre says, “It’s no longer word of mouth …it’s world of mouth.” One poor service experience and many are off to share their woes on social media. If there complaint is creative enough or they have a large platform, it can mean some pretty negative publicity for the company in question.
On the other hand, when your employees consistently deliver on your service promise and then some you can earn loyal customers who return and refer. Surprise and delight them enough and they may even show you some social media love.
Here are 3 changes you can make within the next month that would immediately improve your service delivery.
Start Talking: Many organizations have a vision, a mission and a set of wonderful values. A lot of work went into them. A video was created. Posters were made. Perhaps employees carry around little cards with your values on them. Yet, do they know them? If a secret shopper walked into your building today and asked random team members what the company values were; and more importantly how that translated to their specific job, what would they say? If you’re like most organizations we work with the responses would most likely be: “I don’t know” or “Hmmm…there’s a poster on the wall.” Or “There was a video I saw 5 years ago.”
Companies with strong service cultures have daily conversations with their team members at pre-shift meetings about their company values. They have also defined actionable service behaviors and talk about them all the time, so they become part of the culture.
Choose one value per month and focus on it. Look for team members demonstrating that value and share those stories in your stand up meetings. (You are having pre-shift meetings, right?) Simply talking about your expectations and values more often will get your team members focused on how they can create their own “stories worth sharing” and contribute to a culture of customer service.
Start Communicating: Does this sound familiar? Senior leadership shares information with middle management – which may or may not get filtered down to the front line?
If so, you are not alone. This is a common practice that contributes to miscommunication, mistakes, and working in silos.
The more information your front line team members have, the more they are able to contribute to the service experience you want to create for your residents.
- Company-wide and Property-wide updates – so they understand the bigger picture.
- Department-specific information – so they know what’s going on for the day.
- The value and service basic of the day – and a story that exemplifies them both in action.
- Any special guests expected on site – and discuss how you can all make them feel welcome.
- Recognition for team members who excelled in some way the day before – so you’re celebrating successes.
If this is a new habit for you, the meetings may take a little longer at first. However, have them daily, and they’ll move quicker and you’ll notice a marked improvement in communication and effectiveness.
Start Asking: The best way to get someone excited about a new culture of customer service excellence is to involve them in the process! Ask your front line team members for their best ideas for improving the resident and customer experience.
One way is to hold a company or property-wide contest. Have each department come up with their best idea and present it to the leadership team. Have specific guidelines that must be met in order to move forward. (Budget, the WOW factor, the impact, measurement of success, etc.) Provide them with guidance and resources for bringing it to life – and give a prize in 6 months to those departments who implemented their idea consistently and with the most success.
There is much that goes into creating a culture of customer service excellence; defining, engaging, training, measuring, accountability and more. However, consistently implement these 3 practices within the next 30 days and you’ll gain momentum and begin to tap into the link between service and sales.
Donna Cutting, CSP is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc., a training firm that works with leaders who want to create a culture of customer service excellence. She is the author of “The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service,” and two forthcoming books. Get her free report, 21 Days of Thank You, here: http://redcarpetlearning.com/21-days-thank/