Customer Service Momentum

We have all had poor customer service experiences with which we can relate. It may have been in a restaurant, at a hotel, by a distributor or at a grocery store. The funny thing is that often it boils down to the behavior of one person and yet you never use the services of that provider again! What is it about customer service that turns us off? Believe it or not, it is not usually the product that turns us off. It may be a problem with a product or service, but what makes it poor customer service is the way it makes us feel when we deal with the organizations providing the service or product. As Maya Angelou stated, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Think about it …. Isn’t that the truth? You are turned off not by the issue with the product or service, you are turned off by the way someone made you feel with regard to customer service.

What needs to take place is to help individuals at your organization understand their responsibility in creating a positive experience for your customers, and each of them has accountability in achieving that incredible customer service!

Customer service starts from the top. You need to treat employees as you would like them to treat their customers. This is where a customer focused culture starts. Next, you need to hire for cultural fit. Zappos almost went out of business trying to be a shoe company. The turning point came for them when Tony Hsieh quit being a shoe company and began to be a customer service company. Every single employee is focused on customer service and the outcome is sales. When touring Zappos during the recession of 2009, the day before they had sold 2 million dollars the day before when others were tanking. Every employee is brought on and taken through 2 weeks of training on the culture of Zappos. AT the end of the training, they offer people money to leave! You may ask why bring people on then ask them to leave, but the truth is they consider it an investment because they know a person who does not fit the culture will become a liability. They believe skills can be taught but attitude cannot.

Everyone in the organization must be on the same page and aligned on the goals and mission of the company. People not only need to articulate the statements, they need to understand the behaviors that model the goals of the organization. Next empower your people with the opportunity to go above and beyond when it comes to meeting their customer’s needs. Many Great Places to Work give their employees money to be used for customer service and they are empowered to make decisions for how it is used.

Finally, people need to be recognized for exemplary customer service. Help them to understand the behaviors that are expected when it comes to dealing with customers. Also, let co-workers recognize each other for internal customer service. Are your people recognized for going above and beyond for a co-worker? Create a platform to allow that to happen. In addition, utilize feedback from external customers to help employees understand the affect that your customers felt for people who served them well. Use these suggestions to help your people understand their role in customer service.

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Beth Sears has been an adjunct faculty member with Cornell University’s ILR School since 1993. During this time, she has taught a wide variety of college credit courses and training sessions related to workplace communication and interpersonal behavior…Thanks to Beth’s teaching skills, hundreds of working people in Upstate New York are now better able to manage their anger, interview for new positions, resolve interpersonal conflict, lead groups, and convey their intended message. In my 25 years with ILR extension, I have never worked with a more effective instructor than Beth Sears.
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