If customer service improvement is a goal in your company for the new year, you might wonder where to start. Should we provide our staff with customer service training? Does it start at the top or come from the bottom up? Must we adjust the way we hire people? What about employee orientation? Should we introduce a customer service component to that?
If you are serious about customer service improvement, the answer is yes, yes, yes and yes.
The truth that customer-focused companies know is that customer service improvement is not a one-and-done attempt. It’s not about employee training or leadership development, or any one thing. It takes a consistent and concentrated effort to create an experience that prompts rave reviews, repeat business and referrals.
Here are 6 Important Steps to Customer Service Improvement
- Create a Vision for what customer service should look like in your company. Get really clear on the experience you want to create. Ask:
- What is excellent customer service at our company?
- How do you want your team members to interact with customers at each touchpoint?
- How easy can you make it for your customers to do business with you?
- To what extent are you willing to empower your staff to solve customer problems?
- What do you want your customers thinking and saying about the service experience you and your team members provide?
- In this vision, what staff behaviors constitute exceptional customer service?
- Assess the Current State of your customer service. Get excruciatingly honest and look at where you are today verses where you want to be. In a 2017 Benchmark Study done by Super Office researched showed that while 80% of businesses believe they provide excellent customer service, only 8% of customers believe they are receiving it. Hmmmm. Here’s the truth. Regardless of how good you are, there is always room for customer service improvement. Utilize surveys, quick phone calls, secret shopping, and comment cards to take a pulse on how your customers feel about the service you provide. Step into your customers shoes and personally go through the steps you ask them to take when they do business with you. Watch your team members interact with customers and pay attention to how you and other leaders interact as well. Use this information to determine where you shine and specifically where you have room for improvement.
- Role Model red carpet customer service. Some say building a service culture starts at the top. Others say, it comes from the grassroots of your organization. Here at Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. we think it’s both. However, there is no doubt that if you want your hourly staff to deliver on your world-class expectations, then your leadership team had better be delivering on your vision as well.
- Align Your Efforts toward customer service improvement. There are many pieces of the puzzle and they are all important. To truly build a service culture, everything you do must be aligned with that goal. This means that the way you hire people, they way you orient and onboard them, and the training you provide must all be informed by your decisions about customer service. In addition, internal communications should be infused with customer-focused messaging, and your customer service expectations should be part of every job description and employee evaluation. Consider how staff members are being rewarded for delivering red carpet customer service. Are you employing formal and on-the-spot recognition efforts in every corner of your organization. Are you placing as much emphasis on customer happiness scores as you are on sales numbers? If you truly want to be a customer-focused company, this is what it takes.
- Educate Your Team. While training isn’t the entire puzzle it is an important piece of it. Customer Service skills training for your staff . Be sure to include leadership development and supervisory training in the mix. Getting all leaders on board and ready to direct the effort for customer service improvement is paramount to your success. Your front-line team will balk at any changes you want them to make if they don’t sense 100% buy-in from their leaders. is also important. You may think it’s all common sense, but it can take practice before your team members have the confidence to greet someone effectively, deal with an upset customer, or take the initiative to go the extra mile. When your staff members get that practice through role playing and other training exercises, in a safe setting, they will feel more prepared to roll out that red carpet.
- Continuously Communicate your vision of customer service excellence. As a leadership team it’s critical you keep your staff excited about rolling out the red carpet for your customers. Not once a year. Not once a month. Not even once a week. You must make a daily practice of communicating ways to deliver excellent customer service. Do this at stand-up meetings, through internal written communications, employee orientation, fun rallies, printed materials and video. Even more importantly, communicate through every decision you make. Decisions about hiring and firing, reward and recognition, and how you treat your employees all communicate your commitment, or lack thereof, to world-class customer service. Sometimes it means the difficult decisions we have to make to ensure customer loyalty. Remember, your team is eagerly watching you. Every move you make shows them what’s most important to you. Make sure customer service improvement is on that list.
To be known for red carpet customer service, it takes more than training. It takes leaders willing to build a service culture and commit to it 100% for the long-haul. It may feel like effort at first but, after awhile, it just becomes the way you do business.
What about you? Comment below and let me know what you’re doing this year in your effort toward customer service improvement?
Donna Cutting is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc., where she leads a team of customer service experts who help leaders engage employees to deliver outstanding customer service. She is the author of two books on the topic, including 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers and The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red Carpet Customer Service. For even more tips on how to build a service culture and improve your customer’s experience, subscribe to www.theRedCarpetWay.tv and download our Red Carpet Engagement Toolkit.