I know it sounds counterintuitive, but when it comes to creating an internal service culture, you need to relegate your customer to number two... Let me explain.
Quite rightly, the customer and their needs are indeed of paramount importance when it comes to Customer Experience (CX). But, and there is a big but, in order to fully internalise this, companies should see that everyone they serve, work with and support, is a customer.
How to Create an Internal Service Culture:
Aligning your whole team to embody Customer Experience is central to success.
I know what you’re thinking, "in my B2B company there is considerable personal engagement with customers and a strong service culture within sales team." But, if you take a step back, does this radiate throughout the entire organisation?
A company that has achieved a strong service culture has successfully aligned its employees with the value of a common behaviour: providing a good experience to everyone - internal or external.
But why does this mean relegating your customer to number 2?
The procurement team, for example, should see the production department as a customer because production needs the right product at the right time for it to function. And so on and so forth.
If every individual in every department treated their everyday dealings as though they were customer-facing, not only would excellent customer experience come as second nature, it would be a vastly more pleasant environment to work in. From the smooth transaction processes to the embodiment of your values, after aligning your company, watch it’s CX transform.
Support from the top down
It is all very well demanding an instant switch to a CX focused company, but it takes more than one policy change to transform this into a reality. Your leadership must wholly embody the change that you want to make. If your leadership is championing CX, the rest will soon follow suit.
Whilst leadership is detrimental, every individual team member of staff needs to be aligned, as discussed earlier, with CX. When hiring, you want to hire people for their attitudes; skills can be taught.
I know this sounds radical, and it is, but hiring people already open to the service culture will be a vastly greater fit for your company. Look for people who will embody your values, and see your CX culture fly.
Training and Professional Development
Once you have the right clay you can mould it into shape. Having hired people who embody your values and attitudes, you can, through training processes, qualify them on the highest standards of customer experience.
By training people properly, you can begin to empower them and give them real, meaningful ability to use their own jurisdiction when making decisions. Not only does this enable smoother workings across your company for customers, instead of being put on hold for hours at a time, but makes work meaningful for your employees, who thrive under the responsibility.
For example, Singapore Airlines trains every single employee on core company values. Everyone learns the art of service and how it is delivered, not just to customers but also to colleagues. Each role switches around for training days, with pilots training as air hostesses and check-in staff. This allows them to get a comprehensive understanding of the entire company, and consolidate what is required of them.
Rewards and Awards
Recognition is a powerful form of reward. If salespeople respond to financial incentives, why is there not more of an emphasis on rewards elsewhere in companies?
It is no use hiring the right people and investing in their training if they continue to feel underappreciated and unmotivated in their role. Being genuinely engaged with your staff and the work they are doing is imperative.
If employees aren’t happy and are feeling undervalued, their commitment to the job and the work they want to do is fragile.
Why would they stay if they could gain greater recognition elsewhere?
Psychological safety in the workplace essentially means empowering and enabling your staff to use their discretion in smaller decision making. Try to minimalise bureaucratic ties, and watch your customer-facing processes smooth out.
If your employees don’t feel empowered, they will be reluctant to try new things or communicate effectively. Instead of trying to hide a mistake that was made, employees should feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them, one of the most effective ways of cementing knowledge and practice.
Establish camaraderie on your team. By viewing jobs as a team effort, your employees are more likely to value the team over the individual, which is the first step to creating a customer-oriented team. Happy employees want to perform well and want to do right by the company.
With a culture of psychological safety, people have the freedom to provide constructive feedback to their peers. In a healthy environment of feedback, both positive and more constructive, employees can develop their personal, professional, and customer experience skills.
Ask yourself: if I was an entry-level employee would I want to work here?
This will require you to look at your own values, if you don’t already have them written down think about the type of workplace you want to cultivate.
Define and Reinforce
If it isn’t already, your customer service culture should be written down.
You should have your values, mission and vision written out and clearly communicated to not only your customers but your employees. Having a tangible guiding philosophy guides your newly empowered staff to make decisions aligned with your culture.
But you can’t just choose any old customer service culture.
‘Excellent service’ is no longer enough. Excellent at what?
By creating a unique service philosophy, it is vastly easier to pin down exactly what it is that makes you unique, and the steps you can take to achieve this.
However, whilst it is important to have that tangible culture pinned down, don’t be afraid to update and amend as you see fit as the company, and its culture, evolves. HubSpot, the world leader for excellent CX have amended theirs 25 times.
The Japanese language has 20 different words for quality each with a different meaning. Your customers similarly will have as many different words for service, coming in the form of your staff, website, product, branding, the list goes on. When consolidating your culture, ensure you have incorporated every element of service, including what it means to you.
And last but by no means least.
Bring the Voice of Your Customer Into Your Organisation
It is all very well having an internalised customer service culture eminent throughout your company. But what if you have massively missed the mark in deciphering what it is that your customer actually wants?
Customer contact should start from the very beginning. For example, South West airlines involve loyal customers into their staff selection process, a landmark case for the embodiment of how large B2C companies have got CX bang on.
Singapore airlines also have excellent ways of bringing to the forefront customers wants and needs, by publishing customer compliments and complaints in every issue of their monthly newsletter. This act boosts morale, and reminds the staff of what needs improving for the future. By bringing the customers voice right into the minds of every employee, your culture of excellent CX will radiate out.
So seek feedback, show genuine interest in finding out what your customers want from your company. Ongoing research can help you to gain insight as to how your company currently performs and what improvements you must make to strengthen loyal relationships.
But, don’t over survey and question! Think of how many times you have skipped over a survey because it pops up too frequently or you don’t have anything of value to add to it. The more you impose regular surveys on people, the more reluctant they will be to fill it in time. Be measured and use your judgment on the best intervals by which to seek authentic feedback.
Ultimately, culture trumps strategy, and having the right attitudes, training and psychological safety within your staff, means excellent customer service will soon follow. Making the investments early on and regularly will have overwhelmingly positive repercussions later down the line.
Placing your customer second and investing in your staff is the best possible way to give your customer the best experience, as counterintuitive as it sounds.
If you want to expand your customer experience services, do not hesitate to get in contact with our team of dedicated experts.
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