Everyone wants a culture of great service, but how many people are actually doing something about it? I have learned that you can’t microwave service culture! There are several key factors that take time and leadership in order to bring it about. It’s never a destination, but a journey that can take a thousand miles.
Customer service has become a key differentiator in how we do business today. Of course, customer service has been around for a long time, but offering a service and claiming you provide it, doesn’t mean you excel at it.
So where do we start? Business owners always say, “Well you know I am all about giving great customer service. We try to spend more time with the customer…” Customer service doesn’t begin “out there”, it’s always a “product” of your service culture of your company.
Leadership doesn’t begin with the customer. It’s whether you are creating the environment and behaviors that will serve your customer every day. Don’t take it for me. Richard Branson who owns several businesses has created a legendary customer service culture with several of his ventures. “Good customer service begins at the top. If you senior people don’t get it, even the strongest links further down the line can become compromised.”
So as a leader, you have an obligation to set the tone for your organization to develop a culture that’s known for amazing customer service. At the end of the day, your culture must create positive experiences not only for your customers, but also for your employees. Let me suggest three ways to create excellent customer service culture. Now, remember it take time and daily commitment from everyone in your organization. Cultures are not built in one day. They are a product of many moving elements.
Define your unique culture
Defining your customer service culture begins with self-discovery. You need to find out and figure out how your culture can be different. What makes it so unique and attractive to your employees, customers and shareholders? You can begin formulating it by answering the following questions:
- What is our company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of our customer service culture?
- What do our current customers think of our service?
- What qualities do we want our employees and customers to feel with our company?
Define your core values
“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.” Those words are from Tony Hsieh. Tony Hsieh has created a legendary customer service culture with Zappos. His company raised the bar on customer service and everything they do is a result of a relentless drive to work on their culture.
Identifying meaningful core values can provide a true benchmark of where your culture should be. Core values should ultimately drive your culture and your service you provide to your customer’s day in and day out. Are you living your values and how are they showing up every day?
Everyone in your organization is a customer
How do you deliver great customer service? Well..I would argue and say that you begin with your internal customers! If you think about it, we all need support and help from the people around us right? If everyone in the organization is serving each other, than it will extend to external customers. We have to practice what we preach, not only to people outside of our organization, but building internal relationships that foster team work and trust.
In order for a culture of customer service excellence to develop and grow, the leaders in the organization must have a relentless drive for it. The energy to ensure that this drive spreads throughout the organization and remains there to serve both internal and external customers.
We must become a total customer-centric organization. Everyone, from the top down, must believe that they focus on service.