Successful service cultures are created through the development of customer service strategy. Incorporating customer service into an organization’s strategies and employee goals is a critical step in achieving corporate objectives.
Developing a customer service strategy takes time, energy and focus but can help organizations create the foundation to support a culture that understands and values the customer.
Following are 7 keys to developing a customer service strategy:
1. Customer Service Vision
Sharing the vision for a strong service culture is the first step in creating a service strategy. By sharing the vision, leadership helps employees understand their role and responsibility in achieving service objectives. For example, businesses that share the vision for a strong service culture and invests in service training, has an advantage over businesses that don’t train employees in how to deal with customer issues.
2. Understanding Customer Needs
In order for businesses to be able to meet the needs of their customers, they need to understand customer expectations. Talking to customers and gaining their perspective of products and services is a critical aspect of a needs assessment. Assessing customer needs is done by soliciting feedback through various avenues, such as comment cards, focus groups or satisfaction surveys. Once feedback is gathered a plan should be developed to not only meet but exceed customer expectations. It is all too common for businesses to fail because they thought they understood what their customers wanted. It is a waste of time and money to develop products and services without gaining customer perspective. The trick is to find out what the customer wants and develop a plan to make it happen. Keep in mind that expectations change constantly and what a customer wants today may be very different from what a customer wants a year or two down the road.
3. Get the Right People
In the classic book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, they talk about getting the “wrong people off the bus, the right people on the bus and the right people in the right seats”. Hiring employees with a focus on customers is another major step in developing a strong service culture. All new hires should be screened to ensure they have the disposition and skill set to support a strong customer service culture. I learned a long time ago that skills can be taught but attitude and personality cannot. It is a sad truth but not everyone should interact with customers.
4. Employee Goals
Goals should be developed to achieve customer satisfaction. Goals should be written based on the needs assessment and feedback from customers. Employees need to understand their role in achieving strong customer service goals and how what they do helps the organization achieve corporate objectives. This is done with SMART employee goals.
5. Service Training
Some people are naturally good at dealing with people but all employees can benefit from practical teaching about an organization’s specific approach to customer service. This type of training would include practical behavioral expectations for employees on how to respond to customer demands in any number of situations. Specifically, how to:
Respond to customers
Answer the phone
Customer service standards
Respond to customer complaints
Perform service recovery
These are all important pieces to a customer service curriculum.
Every employee should be accountable for an organization achieving goals for customer satisfaction. This should be incorporated into a structured performance management system. This ensures that employees understand how what they do affects the overall performance of the organization.
7. Reward and Recognition
Acknowledging and rewarding employees for good customer service is the best way to reinforce those behaviors. Positive reinforcement for desired behaviors is a basic foundation for a strong service culture.
The success of every organization is dependent on having a clear vision and strategy for a customer service culture. It is critical for organizations to be able to understand who their customers are, identify what their customers want and develop strategies to exceed customer expectations. Strong customer strategies are what separate successful organizations from the rest.