Creating a customer service-oriented culture is a priority for most managers. Happy customers become loyal customers – and loyal customers bring in more customers. The fact is, people are more likely to talk about bad experiences than good ones (95 percent to 81 percent, respectively) and more than half of people who have bad experiences share them on social media or an online review site like Yelp. The consequences of all this sharing can be dire – nearly 90 percent of consumers report that negative information they heard from others or read online affected their buying decisions.
Clearly, then, providing excellent customer service should be at the top of any manager’s to-do list, but all too often, managers leave customer service in the hands of their employees, expecting that they will know what to do. This usually ends up in disappointment and frustration on all accounts. Even in businesses that go to great lengths to hire employees with a customer service mindset and demonstrable skills in this area still need to provide training, serve as role models, and establish expectations for service – or else the results aren’t going to be what you expect.
Creating a Culture of Service
The first step to providing great customer service is to build a culture of service; that is, everyone who works for your company not only understands what it means to deliver great service, but is passionate about it and committed to giving customers great service. It’s more than just a catchy slogan and directing people to deliver great service, but includes giving employees the tools they need to make customers happy and empowering them to do it.
In fact, if you were to ask leaders from some of the companies known for their excellent service, they would tell you that employees need to come first if you want a service-oriented culture. The best online MBA programs (no GMAT required for some) often use the example of Southwest Airlines, a leader in an industry that’s not always known for delivering exceptional service. From the very beginning, Southwest leadership operated under the once-controversial notion that employees – not customers, not shareholders, not profits – come first. The idea is that when you treat your employees well, they will in turn treat customers well, and create a great experience.
This method holds true no matter your industry. When your employees feel valued, respected, and empowered, they are more likely to be loyal to your company, and willing to do what it takes to help the company succeed. If employees are treated poorly, that is going to be reflected in the way they treat customers.
When it comes to creating a culture of service, management has a few key responsibilities.
Provide training. Imagine that you’re waiting to be served at a restaurant. Your server takes a 20-minute break, and then brings you your cold dinner when she returns. You complain to the manager, who had no idea there was an issue. While this is annoying, it also highlights some key problems with the management. Why did the employee think it was okay to take a break while customers waited for their meals? Why did she get someone to cover for her? Why wasn’t the manager watching for undelivered food?
It’s your responsibility to ensure that your employees are trained in exactly how service should be delivered. This can include everything from how to greet customers to helping them find items to how they should handle complaints. Don’t leave your employees guessing as to what they should do. Train them in how to respond.
Be a role model. The manager who lets the food sit and get cold while the server takes a break? That’s not being a good role model. As a manager, you need to be able to keep your cool, and demonstrate great customer service in all your interactions. Practice what you preach, and show employees what they should do.
Establish clear policies and procedures. Again, customer service isn’t just a slogan. Your commitment should carry through in everything you do, and in every interaction. Develop clear policies and procedures for working with customers, and provide the training and communication necessary to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Creating a customer service culture is one of a manager’s most important tasks. If you feel like your skills aren’t up to par, consider enrolling in an MBA program in management to fill in the gaps and provide the experience you need to be improve your company’s service, and reap the rewards of more loyal customers and higher profits.
About the Author
Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content throughout the World Wide Web. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to provide high quality content that readers will find valuable. When not researching, editing or submitting content you can find her doing Yoga, photography, D.I.Y crafting and dog training.