Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Five Ways to Create the Customer-Focus Mindset

Your people attend customer service training. They learn techniques and tactics on how to deal with complaining customers, angry customers or customers who just need a little support. They are taught the right answers to some difficult questions. This is what customer service training is all about. But…

What happens when something happens that is outside of the parameters of the training your employees have received?

While good customer service training teaches the how-to’s, great customer service training goes into the mindset – and, that’s more than having a great attitude with lots of smiles and a warm personality. That’s important, but a customer-focused mindset goes beyond that.

A customer-focus mindset encompasses all the how-to training, the positive attitude and (here is where the mindset comes in) an understanding of the reason behind a relentless effort to deliver an amazing customer experience. The concepts of the mindset can be considered intangible. They can be about an inner drive and an ambitious effort to take care of the customer. Sometimes they can be intuitive. So, with that in mind, here are five concepts that will help create the customer-focused mindset:

  1. The desire to take care of people – Not every employee has that mindset coming in. Even after basic customer service training, they may still not get it. Sure, they may understand the techniques to deliver service, but don’t get the essence. A customer-focused mindset includes the desire to serve.
  2. Being in the moment – This is realizing when you are delivering a positive service experience. There are certain parts of delivering service that are natural and automatic, however people must be conscious of what they are doing and always looking for ways to make it better.
  3. Know where the line in the sand is – An environment that fosters a customer focus mindset empowers people to do what is necessary to take care of the customer – without crossing the line. The boundaries are typically further out than most people think. Teach them, by example and story, how far your employees can go to take care of their customers – both internal and external customers.
  4. Always learning – The best of the best are continuous learners – and not just about their own products and services. They learn about competitors, what’s the latest and greatest in the industry, and general knowledge about many things. They are interesting people to talk with and understand how to talk to customers the right way.
  5. Recognizing the Awesome ResponsibilityAt any given time, one employee – the one who your customer is interacting with – has the responsibility to deliver an experience that is in alignment with your vision. This one person represents your brand and all his or her fellow employees. Does he or she deliver?

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXVII, Shep Hyken)

  1. One thing I’ve always struggled to resolve is how much of this mindset comes from (1) our individual personality, (2) our workplace culture, and (3) training or leadership.

    It seems all three are involved, but it’s sometimes hard to determine how much influence each has. Do you have any ideas, anecdotes, or data?

  2. One thing I learned over the years is that when a person steps through your door, don’t see them as a customer– see them as an individual who happens to be stopping by, i.e. a Guest. this will trigger a response from you to greet them as individually as possible. Try to tailor a greeting and any subsequent service you provide to them – not just “the customer”. Satisfy the individual and you can be fairly certain you will see them again.

  3. I 100% agree that great customer service doesn’t just come from proper training, but a particular mindset. I like to remember that I am often the person on the other side of the experience. In my time of need, how might I want to be treated by the person on the other end of the phone. Each call should be a new opportunity to learn and should spark your interest in continued education. By using Lessonly software, our reps have the chance to grow in their technical skills AND their mindset on service with specific and customized lessons for them.This can happen both in their exact moment of need and during their down times.

    • Hi Jenny – Thanks for your great comment. I like that you think like the customer. There is an old expression that says, “Walk a mile in the customer’s shoes.” It’s important to understand the customer’s point of view.

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