In a world where websites highlight help buttons and front counters at Big Box companies corral customers to the Customer Service desk, management guru Ken Blanchard continues to remind businesses that, “Customer service should not be a department, customer service is everyone’s job.”
Customer service trickles down. Imagine how you hire and treat your employees and then consider that your employees will pay that respect, kindness, and patience along to your customers. The reality, then, is that customer service becomes everyone’s job — not just your front line of employees or bank of customer service representatives. What’s more, it happens everywhere, whether it’s in-store or online through social media and blogging.
Ultimately, customer service starts at the top. If your CEO doesn’t have your customers at the forefront of their business plan, the rest of the company will feel it. Is the head of your company taking customer service calls or emails? Is she hopping on the company chat to make sure that complaints are being handled swiftly and responsibly? If not, chances are your employees see the divide, and customers aren’t having the kind of experience they could be having. Even the most high-ranking executives showing the fluid nature of customer service will create waves of change.
Bill Marriot, former CEO and heir to Marriot International, credits the company’s service success to Marriot employees: “[We make] sure our associates are well cared for so they in turn take care of our customers.”
When it comes to your workers, hiring passionate, motivated people is important, but if you’re not building your brand with a culture of customer service in mind, you’re missing the point. Think of your employees as target customers. If you hire people who are excited about the brand, they’ll reflect that to your customers in the best way possible; brand evangelists make the best employees. Hiring just by skills or experience won’t create impassioned employees, and the truth is that a companies don’t make emotional connections — people do.
“Customer service creates an environment of one-to-one communication. That intimacy creates a special opportunity to build a relationship,” says Joseph Michelli, author of The Zappos Experience.
Companies like American Express that have ditched the script and allow their employees do “off the cuff” customer service have seen the greatest successes. Employees are happy, customers are happy, and service ratings have skyrocketed. When you give your employees the chance to be the experts, you’re giving them respect, responsibility, and a chance to shape a customer’s experience.
Every employee has the chance to make or break a company, whether they understand that role or not. It’s important to make sure everyone — from the people sweeping the hallway to the highest executives, whether on Twitter or working in a storefront — understands that they are brand ambassadors.
A quick and positive customer service interaction reinforces brand loyalty and lets customers experience the possibilities of an amazing brand that puts its customers first at every turn. With positive customer service, you create positive brand marketing that is organic, natural, and doesn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. Value your brand, value your employees, and your customers will feel the trickle-down love.