Building an effective customer service culture in an organization
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” -Sam Walton
Forward thinking organizations allocate a robust budget on research just to gain as much information about their customers so that they can provide them with suitable products and services.
Apart from seeking for their customers’ wants, tastes, motivations and how buying decisions are made, they create marketing campaigns to drive purchase of these products.
All these efforts are because customers are the lifeblood of a business. No customer, no business! Customers bring in the revenue that keeps the business afloat-employees get salaries; government get taxes, etc.
At the same time, they could bring loss to a business because of their ability to boycott and influence others to do so especially with the power of social media.
For instance, last year Snapchat, (a global mobile multi messaging app used to share short lasting pictures or videos) was reported to have lost almost two billion dollars when on different occasions, Kylie Jenner and Rihanna influenced a boycott, one over dissatisfaction and the other over offensive advertisement. Customers have so much power now than ever before.
Recent research on customer behavior reports that an unsatisfied customer will tell up to fifteen people about their experience. And, the reason for customer churn out is not mainly price, but poor service.
Customers also bring good deed because when happy, their referrals and recommendations result in multiple customers, making for expansion and even more revenue streams.
A business that aims to remain vibrant for a very long time must take its customers very seriously, and this goes beyond solving complaints, or about its representatives being friendly.
Management must first imbibe a customer centric culture which recognizes the significance of the customer in all operations so much that even departments that do not interact with them are also focused on the customer, delivering the best service from product design to launch.
By implementing practices which revolve around ensuring positive consumer experiences, such organization meets an important criteria of business success.
A business should first define what customer service means to it and then clearly communicate it, while reflecting this vision in its products and services without neglecting the most accessible after service support.
This will get everyone on the same page, and the most loyal customer base who then become effective brand ambassadors especially in a highly competitive business environment.
Also hiring the right people, people who have skill set and the mindset of leadership, service, and attitude make the goal of exceptional customer service achievable while training them to be customer centric.
Staff who interact with customers should have knowledge of the company’s products and services. They should be able to resolve conflicts, have a winning attitude and be motivated to always go the extra mile to provide an extraordinary experience for customers. They should listen to understand and apologize first before offering solution.
Customer facing staff should realize that an unhappy customer is rather frustrated with the product or service and not them.
Emphasize the need for employees to always show empathy, treating customers as they would love to be treated, while celebrating staff who go out of their way to satisfy customers.
Also ensure to apply sanctions, defining expectations and unacceptable behaviors.
Remember employees are the faces of a business, an organization’s first customers, hence appreciating will make them passionate about rendering quality services.
Additionally, seek feedback from employees and customers alike.
Within the business, create an open feedback system where workers are encouraged to bring in their own suggestions. Acknowledge these suggestions and reward exciting ideas.
Organize brainstorming sessions. Use success stories as well as missteps as learning opportunities.
Maybe the products can be improved or a certain internal process avoided, disgruntled customers are good for business because their raw feedback if properly analyzed, can lead to positive change for business. Engage them.
Ask if they like the new packaging or what they think about the new brand color or explain why an existing policy is overriding.
Use social listening to track conversations about your brand on the internet. Tools like Google Alerts can be used to track mentions about a brand online.
Customers want to that know their opinions are valued. You will be building a long term solid relationship with them if you consider.
Along with defining a customer service culture, measure progress by tracking performance.
This is very important because it identifies potential problems allowing managers to know when they must make adjustments. A number of measures should be chosen to gauge performance.
For instance, number of repeat customers? Number of complaints? Number of new customers? How many escalated complaints? How many customers patronized from recommendations? How many customers were highly satisfied? How many returns? Performance measures should be transparent, relevant, clearly communicated and should be actively monitored. Tracking performance while emphasizing the goal at every chance keeps everyone focused at all times.
Management should realize that by defining its own culture, placing customers at the center of business activities, hiring the right people while seeking feedback and tracking performance, it will be creating a culture that does not only ensure customer retention but will also attract new ones which in the long term will yield to sustained profits.