Creating a Culture of Customer Service



Every company claims to have good customer service. But what does that really mean? What do you think of when you think of good customer service? What's the difference between that and great customer service?

We think of good customer service when someone is helpful and friendly. But great customer service is when someone goes above and beyond to make sure you have what you need, that you are happy, and that your future needs will be met as well. How as a company do you achieve that level of "great customer service"?

We believe it's by creating what we call a culture of customer service. A culture of customer service within a company means that customer service isn't relegated to a department or specific group of people. It means that everyone in the company —regardless of their title or role ­— is working toward creating a better customer experience.

Just exactly how does a company create a culture of customer service? We offer five tactics to get you started:

  1. Set standards for how to handle specific customer interactions. This can be as simple as having a live person answer the phone during business hours, or implementing a standard time in which to respond to a question or inquiry, or having specific backup procedures when an employee is out. Having a specific set of official customer service standards helps to create a consistent level of customer service throughout your organization. It also gives you a means to measure and identify areas in which someone is potentially falling behind when it comes to meeting those standards.
  2. "Accountability" shouldn't be a negative word. Oftentimes we think of accountability in terms of assigning blame for something not completed or done incorrectly. Accountability should mean doing what you say you're going to do. In rethinking how we look at accountability, we shift the focus from waiting for someone to fail to creating an expectation that they'll follow through. It builds a stronger sense of trust and commitment.
  3. Everyone should be made to feel that regardless of title, job position or job function, every job within the company is equally important. That means that one department isn't put on a pedestal or expected to carry out the goals of the company on its own. It's understood that every job function is important in order to keep operations running smoothly, efficiently, and effectively, which in turn, results in a better customer experience and higher customer satisfaction.
  4. As an extension of the last point, everyone should be ready to pitch in to help regardless of whether or not a specific task fits into his or her "official job description." That means the President might change a light bulb, or sales might help cover the front desk when it's short-staffed. This reinforces the notion that when everyone pitches in and things get done, it's better for the company (and its customers) as a whole.
  5. Cross-train your employees so they understand how each business function works and contributes to the success of the organization. It makes it easier to help out and builds respect for the work of others when you know what they do. Helping employees have an understanding of how each job function contributes to the organization helps them to know how their job and the decisions they make may impact another individual, department, and the company. (We'll talk more about how to do this in our next blog post.)

Creating a culture of customer service doesn't automatically happen overnight. It takes teamwork, communication, trust, and respect. When you build those qualities within your team, the focus on those values permeates customer interactions as well. Great customer service then becomes the standard.

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