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Five Ways to Create a Customer Service Culture

This article could have been titled: Customer Service Inside the Company Drives Customer Service Outside the Company.

The reason an organization can deliver good or bad customer service comes down to one thing; what is happening on the inside of that organization.  To sum it up in one word: culture.

The culture inside of the organization is impacting your customer service. It’s more than just hiring the right people, and it’s more than customer service training.  At the same time, it’s simple.  It’s just setting an example of customer service behavior at the top, and pushing its way, through all employees, toward the customer.

Starting at the top means that leadership and management must set the tone.  Then, they must practice what they preach.  They must treat employees like they want the customer treated – even better, just to
accentuate the point.  (If that last sentence seems familiar, it may be because you recognize it as my spin on the Golden Rule, which I refer to as the Employee Golden Rule: Treating employees the way you want the customer treated.)

This is where the customer focused culture begins.  It starts with people who want to do the right thing.  From that point, we can layer on customer service training (and other types of training) that focuses on creating an amazing place to work.

So how can you accomplish this?  Here are five ways that you can create a customer service focused culture.

1. Hire for the culture.  It’s an old adage that says hire for the attitude and train the skill. This is a little different.  Even with the right attitude, will the new employee fit in to the culture you are trying to build or sustain?  Look beyond the attitude to the personality.  Make sure there is a cultural fit.

2. Train for the culture.  If the employee has the right attitude and personality that meshes with your culture, get him/her up to speed and entrenched in your culture as quickly as possible.  They must understand what the company stands for; it’s goals, mission and vision.

3. Everyone must be on the same page.  I call this alignment.  Understanding the company’s goals, mission and vision is one thing.  Employees must be able to articulate the essence of these statements.  I love the concept of the “mantra,” which is a sentence version of the goals, vision and mission that succinctly sums up what the company’s culture is about.

4. Allow people to experiment.  This is another way of saying people are empowered to try and do new things and is especially true in the world of customer service.  The outcome should be favorable for the customer, not hurt the company (financially, legally, etc.) and enhance the relationship with the customer.

5. Create a learning environment.  If you really let people experiment, and they are truly empowered, there will be much to learn from the successes and failures of your employees.  Celebrate it all.  Encourage people to learn from their successes and their failures.  Share these
lessons with everyone. If your company is amazing to work for, if people love coming to work,
and if there is a contagious enthusiasm because people really love how they are treated, what they do and who they are doing it for, then don’t you think the customer is going to feel it?  That’s what a customer service focused culture is about.

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Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author who helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees.  For more information on Shep’s speaking programs and learning products, please contact (314) 692-2200.

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