If you look at companies lauded for their superior customer service, you almost always find that those companies create a culture that supports excellence in customer service. It's not that they simply train their employees in customer service skills. What they do is ensure that customer service is interwoven into everything the company does. Customer service excellence simply becomes the way things are done around here. In fact, the way things are done around here is a good, simple description of organizational culture. With respect to customer service, a customer service culture involves a set of beliefs, values, and action options that are communicated to all members of the organization, so they can be used to guide and mold interactions and decision-making regarding customers. The best way to understand this is to look at two companies in the retaill industry, one with a culture that supports excellence in customer service, and another where the company's culture is oriented towards immediate or short term monetary gain. Company A interweaves the idea of providing excellent customer service in everything they do. Their sales staff are not paid on commission, but paid a basic salary, and the staff is taught (via training, coaching, and observing management behavior), that it's more important to keep a customer (and keep a customer happy), than to make a one time sale. Company B, however, is much more concerned with making the sale. Their staff are paid on a commission basis (which conveys the values of making a sale to employees), and employees are encouraged to spend their time selling to new customers, rather than interacting with existing customers. Any activity that is not directly related to increasing short term sales is frowned upon. Most of us are familiar with such companies. Go to Company A (that has a customer service oriented culture), and you'll get questions answered before and after the sale, not be pressured to commit to a sale, and a focus on providing you with good information at all times. In addition staff will spend time before, during and after sales to help you. Go to Company B, however, and you'll find staff disinterested in you if you indicate you are just looking, a hesitancy to spend time answering questions, and much less effective post-sale customer service. Most of us will patronize Company B, even if their prices are a little higher, because they convey a send of trustworthiness. We like to go to Company A, and we don't enjoy going to Company B. The upshot is that Company A has made a concerted effort to create a customer service oriented culture, while Company B has created a culture that supports making money through new sales.
8 Critical Steps to Establish a Customer Service Culture
By Anthony Mullins
“Every company’s greatest assets are its customers, because without customers there is no company,” --Erwin Frand During our recent weakened economy, many businesses have seen declining revenues and declining budgets. Declining budgets often lead to reduced staff levels and diminished services. To me, this does not make sense. I believe that it is during the down times, when service should be at the forefront and retention of loyal customers even more of a focus. When price wars fail to drive revenues, businesses often look to service to give them a competitive advantage. Many big business marketers are returning to a “service sells” mentality, however, many sell great customer service and few deliver. The problem is that few marketers have ever truly served a customer. Throughout my years in business, I have had the opportunity to interact and develop a customer service philosophy. It is inherent that when you are in a service-based business, there will be times when your customer is compelled to offer you their feedback. It is what you do with this feedback that will shape the future and their impression of your business. Upon reflection, most...