How to Build a Strong Customer Service Culture

Making your business stand out from the crowd can be hard to do. While a high-quality product or service is definitely a must, the best way to get a leg up on your competitors is to offer top-of-the-line customer service. Take Zappos for instance; one can buy shoes just about anywhere these days — but finding the kind of customer service Zappos offers is far more difficult.


In order to give your customers a truly outstanding experience, you have to start by building a very specific framework within your company — a culture based on customer service. Such a culture exists when your employees take a customer-centric approach to everything they do: from ensuring customers get a good product experience to putting their needs first when providing support.


But how exactly do you go about constructing this framework?


Seek Customer Feedback

Before you do anything else, take a moment to actually ask your customers what they want from your company. Ongoing research — done through feedback surveys — can help you discover what service style your customers prefer. This allows you to match your service philosophy to their needs and gain insights on how to strengthen customer relationships. Furthermore, when your employees see you putting customers first, they can more easily buy into the customer-centric culture you project.


Hire People Who Fit Your Culture

When building a customer service culture, it’s vital you know who your employees are — and if they’re the right people for customer support roles. When assessing your potential new hires, think about whether or not they’ll fit into the culture you’ve created. Keep an eye out for people who are patient, empathetic, and able to keep their cool in stressful situations. Perhaps most important — hire people who are passionate about customer service.


Educate Your Employees

It’s up to you to educate your employees on your core values and customer service expectations. This education should be ongoing and can take the form of seminars, online classes, or professional development opportunities. By offering continuing education to your employees, you empower them to go above and beyond to satisfy customers. The more knowledgeable your employees are, the more successful they will be in delivering outstanding customer service.


Trust your team

Once you’ve trained your employees — and they know the guidelines in which to operate — authorize them to make their own decisions. Get rid of scripts and canned responses and let employees speak to customers in their own voice. Make sure they know they don’t have to ask for approval when making customer-focused decisions — give them the autonomy to do whatever it takes to make customers happy. Good customer service requires both a human touch and a healthy dose of empathy, and a culture that gives employees licence to connect with customers on a personal level supports the kind of emotional attachments that lead to both customer and employee loyalty.


Reward and Recognize

If you really want to encourage exceptional customer service, you have to reinforce its importance through action. You can do this by recognizing your top performers and celebrating employee successes. This recognition can be either public or private, can be given in person or in writing, and may come with or without a financial reward. Remember, recognition is one of the greatest motivators you have in your toolbox — the activities you reward and reinforce become part of your company culture.


Be Available

Beyond feedback and training, it’s essential you’re there for your customers when they reach out. Thanks to its 24/7 availability, many customers are now looking for support via social media — and 42 percent of them expect a response within 60 minutes. This means that when you have employees on the clock, it’s imperative they respond to inquiries, reviews, and complaints as quickly as possible.


It’s also critically important that employees answer the phone when it rings. Thanks to the internet, consumers do a lot of research and troubleshooting on their own. This means that when they do pick up the phone, it’s serious — and they need someone waiting to help them on the other end. Being both available and ready to offer assistance can do wonders for improving customer relationships.


Developing a customer-first culture takes a lot of time and continued effort. To be successful, you have to hire the right people, educate them well, and empower them have meaningful, empathetic conversations with your customers. There will be times when you may wonder if it’s all for naught (especially when dealing with difficult customers), but ultimately, you will see the positive results of your hard work.


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