Instilling Customer Service in Every Employee

“It’s much harder to provide a great customer service than I would have ever realized. It’s much more art than science in some of these other areas and not just about the facts but about how you are conveying them”. – David Yu

Unless customer service becomes part of a company’s culture, it would be impossible to make it every employee’s responsibility. Instilling customer service in every employee, then, is the duty and should be amongst the top priorities for any company. This means that employees should primarily be treated in the way that the company expects them to behave with customers. The leaders of a company must set the standards of customer service behaviour, becoming role models and beacons of this trait for every employee. Without customer service standards being set within the company, it would be foolish to expect external customers to be treated well by employees. There is no doubt anymore that customer service starts inside a company, spreads to external customers, and therefore is critical to the success of a company.

A positive and productive business environment is essential for growth, to ensure that employees use their skills, abilities, time, and aptitude optimally and contribute to the success of the company. Instilling customer service in every employee would ensure that all employees would interact and relate to customers – existing and prospective, in a manner that would highlight the company’s commitment and passion for service to customers. It is after all, the business from customers, which pays everyone’s salary and keeps a business running profitably. Your employees must understand that their actions and service towards customers is what would either keep them coming back or take away their business for good. If customers leave, the business would shut down and no one would have a job – this is the harsh reality that everyone must know which would make instilling customer service in every employee a lot easier. We are hard-wired to look out for ourselves and showing employees the complete picture would ensure compliance.

So what does a company-wide culture of customer service achieve? A culture focused on customers would let every employee be mindful of their behaviour with each other and display impeccable conduct when interacting with customers. They would know how to display care and empathy, understand the customer’s needs and wants, know how to deal with emotions and moods, and overall ensure that customers stay happy knowing that they are valued. A combination of all these factors will let customers know they chose the right ‘partner’ for business, which would make them come back repeatedly and bring their friends along too. The fact is that with so many competitors within the same area and market space, it would be extremely foolish for a company to become complacent and lose focus on serving customers with top class service at all times. The quote mentioned summarizes why customer service is possibly the most important aspect for any company – Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game” – Tony Allesandra. With so many companies offering similar products and services, at almost the same price and quality, the differentiator for any company would be service meted out to customers by the company as a whole. You would not want your competition to benefit from the lack of service – the customers you lose would most likely partner with your closest competitor. It would be like giving them free business at your expense!

Instilling customer service in every employee should be an on-going and relentless activity, modelled and imparted by the top brass and leaders of a company. What employees see and receive is what they will emulate and disseminate. They must understand that everyone in the company has a job and the company exists because customers give business. Customers provide business and repeatedly so only when they get that ‘something extra’ from a company in terms of service to them. They want to collaborate with a company that is friendly, honest, transparent, empathetic, and one that understands their emotional needs and feelings. Existing customers that remain happy with a company are more likely to provide repeat business that would increase in volume and price, and would provide great testimonials and referrals. This word-of-mouth advertising is a very powerful tool, which can accelerate a company’s growth and profitability quicker than anticipated.

There are certain traits and behaviours that each employee must exhibit at all times, such that these behaviours become habit and would seem natural when dealing with external customers. Instilling customer service in every employee is all about lucidly explaining and specifying the kind of behaviours and traits each person must exhibit when interacting with customers – via any channel. To start with, on connecting with a customer, every employee must greet the customer pleasantly and address them by name if they are aware of whom the customer is. The employee must remain calm, pleasant, and professional, remembering not to cross the line towards becoming overly friendly or familiar with a customer. They must ensure to ask the customer what they need, offer suggestions, and do everything to help their situation and or solve their problem. It is imperative to end the conversation pleasantly, to encourage the customer to keep coming back and let others know of their pleasant experience. The easier and happier employees can make it for customers, the more likely the customers would be to reconnect, give business, and remember to recommend the company to friends and associates. Delighted customers could potentially write great reviews for the company via social media – these comments would be visible to a rather large audience, enhancing the chances of a company to gain more customers. The converse is also true – annoy a customer and they would not spare a single opportunity to write the worst and most negative reviews about the company and its customer service.

Instilling customer service in every employee is certainly not an easy task. The reason being that not everyone has a service bent of mind, are not skilled in the area, and serving others does not come naturally to all. Each employee, outside the customer service teams, would have their own skills, experiences, and capabilities specific to the job they perform. The additional expectation of customer service usually comes as a surprise to new employees, and hence there would be some resistance. However, if the company builds and sustains a culture of service, tying it in with the growth and prosperity of individuals within the company, instilling the attitude of service would be a lot easier. There must be company-wide customer service training provided, teaching the basics of service such as professional greeting, handling and time management of customer calls, customized responses, use of customer’s name, pleasant closings, and other such baseline customer service etiquette.

Customers are unlikely to know who would receive their call or respond to their email or other types of communication. All they need to know is that the person at the ‘other end’ is professional and equipped to deal with their query and or situation, and is able to display empathy and understanding of the customer’s need. Irrespective of the reputation of the company, the quality of the products, and the popularity of a brand, customers will remember how they were treated and made to feel when interacting with the company. The bottom line is that instilling customer service in every employee would be essential and a prudent move on the part of a company, since the aspect of top class customer service is what will keep any business successful.

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