Ever have a poor customer experience at Starbucks? I haven’t. I am always extremely satisfied when I leave there. From the moment you walk in, every employee smiles from ear to ear, they have a ton of energy, and if they mess up your order or take longer than expected, they give you a free drink, no questions asked. The key is this: they make it about you, the customer, from the second you enter their front door. Every employee seems to possess a positive attitude at all times. They truly make me believe that they love going to work and that satisfying their customers is their top priority.
So let’s at another example. During a chitchat with a co-worker the other day, he shared an experience he recently had with a Thai food restaurant located near his house. He had placed an order for delivery, and when the order arrived at his house, they were missing two appetizers and two drinks he had ordered. He asked for them to please bring the full order back. They came back and brought him one of the drinks. He kindly asked them again to please bring the full order back. They left, and then he received a phone call that they would credit his next order instead. He never received his full order that day, leaving him extremely dissatisfied. He finished off the story by explaining that there’s no way he would go back to that Thai restaurant and that he would be going back to the one he knew he loved. When I asked what made him love his usual spot, he said consistency. He explained that they bring everything on time and that every employee is similar in that they are all nice, friendly and reliable.
So what makes the difference? How can something so “simple” like great customer service go so wrong for so many different organizations? Whether you are making coffee drinkers happy or whether you’re part of your sales organization responsible for attracting and retaining your customers, maintaining customer service is key. I truly feel that great customer service starts with a great culture. Here are a few ways to create the right culture that will result in better customer service:
Hire the right people. Making sure you hire the right fit for your team is huge. When you think about inside sales reps in particular, it’s important you hire team members who possess the qualities that will fit with your overall company culture. If they are happy, it will show when working with customers and potential customers, and clients will sense their attitudes. Your company culture should be driven from the top down. If management is customer-focused, as they should be, then every member of your team must feel the same way; otherwise customer service can’t thrive, and you’ll never retain customers. Think about the Starbucks example – I would imagine managers at Starbucks won’t even consider applicants that appear to have any kind of Debbie Downer mentality. Customers can easily sense these things, and if you hire the right people who are the right fit for your culture, great customer service won’t let up.
Reward and incent your people. Companies tend to focus on the negative customer experiences when they think about how to increase customer service. A great company focuses on successes as well, and rewards those individuals for a job well done. In turn, employees are happier, making their customer interactions better and better. I think about our organization and how we incent our reps in a variety of ways – from earning additional paid time off to getting a pair of Red Sox tickets for a job well done. As a result, everyone here is upbeat and has a ton of energy (even on Mondays!), which is clearly present in all interactions with their clients.
Exercise customer service internally. If you are bringing customer service to your environment internally at your company, it helps to further develop the idea of creating a culture that will ultimately boost service for your customers. If every internal department delivers consistently and is reliable towards different groups within the organization, it further enhances the idea that delivering these things is naturally part of the culture. In turn, your team will continue this pattern when it comes to working with customers.
I love the quote, “Treat your employees like you want them to treat the customer.” When it really comes down to it, customer service is driven from the culture you create within your organization and for your employees – from hire, the way you incent them, to the way all departments speak and act towards each other. How do you create the right culture to boost customer service?