World-Class Customer Service Mindset – Below is the acid test if you, the leader, truly want to create a world-class service culture. You must have the following mindset, 100% with no wavering. If any of these 11 rules are difficult to swallow or you don’t fully agree, you are not there.
1. Customer Service Top Four Priority – It cannot be “flavor of the month” or “program of the year.” Customer service has to be as important as finance, sales, operations, and technology. It needs to be talked about at board meetings, strategic planning sessions, with leaders and everyone else in the company including front-line employees. For more information see past eService, Executive Sponsorship.
2. Pick a Path – I love seeing existing companies’ Customer service training manuals (the companies that have them). It typically is a hodge-podge of numerous resources, often in different books. Or, depending on what year employees were hired, it is the trend they were trained on (management by bestseller). If you were hired in 1997, you read Raving Fans; if you started in 2000, you read Fish; in 2008, What’s the Secret? Listen, they are all great, but your company needs to pick a path and stick with it — from terminology to philosophies to what we use to train our employees. For more information, see past eService Implementation & Execution.
3. Service Aptitude is the Foundation – This is a person’s ability to recognize opportunities to exceed Customer expectations regardless of the circumstances. How good your (or any company’s) Customer service is comes down to the service aptitude of every single employee, including and especially the leader. For more information see past eServices Service Aptitude & It isn’t their fault, they don’t know any better.
4. Service Aptitude is the company’s responsibility to train regularly, reinforce daily – No one is born with this, no one graduates from any school with high service aptitude. You can’t hire it. It can only be trained. The objective of your new employee training and existing employee training must be to be to dramatically increase service aptitude. Not only in training but every day through various internal communications (signage, intranet, stories, pre-shift huddles, what gets recognized, measured, etc.) For more information see past eServices Pret A Manger & Who is to blame?
5. Customer Service is not common sense nor should it be left to personal interpretation. The “golden rule” is the worst thing you can use as your compass for your Customer service. I don’t want my 20-year-old, front-line employees to be treating all our Customers like they want to be treated. Totally different people with completely different sets of expectations. For more information see past eService Never & Always.
6. What we sell (our products & services) is a commodity – There are people who sell what you sell, perhaps just as good and for less money. It is not just the front-line employees who need to increase their service aptitude and more soft/people skill training. I have worked with hundreds of organizations and professionals such as accountants, financial advisors, consultants, lawyers, programmers, and doctors, who are extremely skilled and are trained technically, but have extremely low service aptitude. Every employee needs Customer experience training. For more information see past eService Proficient or Nice?
7. Employees must see things from the Customer’s perspective (walk in their shoes) – Many employees have never been their own Customer, have never needed the services and products their company provides, cannot comprehend what the Customer’s mindset is. Therefore they cannot empathize, be compassionate and anticipate their Customer’s needs. For more information see past eService Walking in the shoes of your Customer.
8. Everything is our problem – If you really train everyone in your company to have the mindset that EVERYTHING is your problem and responsibility, and you remove the victim mentality of “it is our Customer’s fault,” your company’s Customer experience will elevate to new heights. You’ll find solutions that eliminate the problems and make your company more efficient, and your Customers happier. For more information see past eService Everything is our problem.
9. Be naïve, NEVER paranoid – Don’t punish 98% of the Customers for what you are afraid 2% will get away with. We need to stop threatening and punishing the Customer. The result is, you win the argument but lose the Customer. For more information see past eService Foot Traffic.
10. Employees need to be empowered and 100% fearless – So often leadership is disappointed with the front-line employees’ lack of above & beyond efforts and actions. The key reason? Your employees are scared! For more information see past eService Are your employees fearless?
11. Everyone needs to lose sleep at night over the Customer satisfaction scores – Regardless of your company’s size, someone in your organization has to be in charge of the Customer experience and all that goes with it. For more information see past eService Who is losing sleep at night over the Customer?