(The second of a two-part series on AWESOME CUSTOMER SERVICE, part one can be found here)
Before we proceed to rules 4, 5, and 6, let’s do some definition of terms first.
There are two types of culture in a given organization: there is the EXPRESSED culture, and there is the ACTUAL culture.
The expressed culture is what you see on Mission-Vision-Values statements or in organization “credos.” It is the culture that companies WANT their companies to be defined by.
The actual culture is, obviously, what your organization is really like.
To hardcore HR practitioners, the technical terms are actually “presumed” vs. “actual” HR. But I think “expressed” is a bit more descriptive than “presumed.” Expressed culture is the culture organizations SAY they have.
My underlying theory here in these articles is simple: producing documents and expressions are not enough. You need to be able to consciously MANAGE culture to have any effect on the ACTUAL culture.
What does this have to do with customer service?
This flows now into rule #4:
4) Take culture by the horns
If you want to deliver kickass customer service, then it has to be ingrained in your ACTUAL culture. For this to happen, you have to consciously create a customer service culture.
You need to talk about it all the time with your employees, and say stuff like, “how do you think this affects our culture?” or “does this employee fit our culture?” or “we can’t do that, it’s against our customer service culture.”
You need to put visual cues on the wall. You need to make “creating a service culture” a key objective for your managers.
If awesome customer service becomes part of the norm, then you will easily see everyone in the organization “policing” themselves.
If everyone literally frowned upon telephones kept ringing, or delivering slow service, or lack of enthusiasm, then guess what – then it won’t happen.
A very powerful tactic is on anchoring a culture on a certain “rallying point.” (think war drums or a coxswain)
This deserves its own rule:
5) Create a Customer Service Mantra
This word is what our employees are given as an objective – the customer should be so inclined to express “hanep!” after transacting with them.
Rather than describing to our employees what awesome customer service is with jargon-filled definitions and scenarios, we just ask them to deliver “hanep!” (the second rule is extremely important in making this one happen)
This makes awesome customer service seem very real and very simple to our guys.
6) Never Fail to Reward and Recognize
Norms are created in an organization largely because of simple operant conditioning – the norm is positively or negatively reinforced.
If rule 2 is strictly followed, the need to do negative reinforcement (punishment) is lessened. We can then concentrate on positive reinforcement. (Much admired billionaire investor Warren Buffet is renowned for never using negative reinforcement and always giving positive reinforcement)
First, you have to REWARD your customer service personnel well. Since you are hiring empathic problem solvers, and not parrots – you have to pay them as such. Incentivize great customer service. Remember rule 1: this is an investment. While perhaps at first you may be paying more than you bargained for, done right should give you a very nice return. Remember, people are starved for good customer service.
Second, always remember that you should never fail to grab an opportunity to recognize good customer service rendered by your employees. It has been WELL DOCUMENTED that recognition – praising others – goes a long, long way in motivating people. Do this publicly.
Bonus Rule: Read Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness
There was a time we were using scripts and carried on with customer service using practices garnered from BPO firms.
When I finished reading this book, I had a “stop the presses!” moment and met with our team. We needed to change everything. (the audio book’s pretty cool despite Tony’s sleepy-hypnotic voice)
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