Over the years I’ve observed that the organizations who nurture the best service behaviors use these four strategies.
1. Educate towards Empathy
It’s easier to get employees to care about customers by putting them in the place of customers. That’s why when clients bring me in to conduct customer service training for their teams, I ask participants to create a list of what they expect when they are customers. Then we reveal tips on how, by simply changing a few words, staff can demonstrate that they understand the customer’s perspective. Compare: “I’ll have to check our schedule” vs. “I’ll be happy to check our schedule for you.”
2. Catch Them Being Good!
That message was pasted on a banner at a daycare across from a fitness room where I was working out. It was meant to remind the staff to pay attention when toddlers are doing the right things; not just correcting them when they misbehave. Similarly, managers foster better customer experiences by catching employees when they provide exceptional service. The key then is to ensure all team members learn from the positive behavior.
3. Stage a CAST Meeting
Getting employees to care requires more than a onetime event; it requires ongoing nurturing of your customer service culture. To make the process more efficient, consider staging CAST meetings. CAST stands for a Customer Service Team Meeting. It’s where leaders and their teams talk about how to make the experience better for customers, employees, managers and other stakeholders. CAST meetings take as little as 90 minutes a month and you’ll find that in as little as six months they transform your customer service culture. Essentially they involve reminding team members of your service mission and standards, providing a coaching moment, disseminating customer service feedback, discussing ways to enhance the experience, and celebrating your service legends—examples where staff went above and beyond for customers.
4. Turn Service Stars into Owners
As the expression goes, owners care more, and it shows (particularly to customers). Employees who have a vested financial interest in ensuring customers are happy over the long term take a different approach to service than those who are just waiting for a paycheck. That may mean putting your money (actually your equity) where your mouth is. At some point high performing frontline employees, who presumably don’t earn as much as managers, are going to want to create a more secure financial future. One of the most effective ways to involve them—literally—is to offer share ownership to your star performers.
Bottom line—Cultivating a customer service culture isn’t complicated. It does however require training and support. Some managers claim they’re too busy for this. My question: in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace where your service is increasingly the only significant differentiator, what could possibly be more important to managers than ensuring your team provides outstanding service that customers notice, pay a premium for, and tell others about?
About the Author
Jeff Mowatt is a customer service strategist, Hall of Fame speaker, and bestselling author. For more tips, training tools or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team visit JeffMowatt.com.