The Secret to Great Customer Service

What is the secret to create a culture where great customer service comes naturally?

For the past 20 years organizations of all types have been attempting to answer that question. Prior to that time, only a few select companies even understood the importance of customer service and how excelling in that arena could lead to customer loyalty and long term success.

There are two keys to creating this culture.

1. Remove Obstacles

There are many people who have great intentions of providing exceptional service when they report to work each day, but something gets in the way and prevents the execution of their intent. Obstacles can come in many forms. The most common are:

  • Systems and policies
  • A culture of “no”
  • No delegation of authority

2. Hire the Right People

One benefit to customer service training programs is they remind everyone of the expectations and motivate them to treat customers as they would like to be treated. This is important and would help you get the majority of your team up to delivering at a “4” level of service on a 5 point scale.

The challenge is in getting to that next level, or a “5.” The difference between a 4 and 5 is huge! A customer who receives a “4” level of service is satisfied and not likely to complain, but someone who has received “5” service is much more likely to return and refer their friends and family members to your organization. “5” service does not come just from training. Employees must have an innate desire to serve others. People are either going to “get it,” or not.

This is difficult to determine in a short interview, but I suggest giving the candidate several scenarios to consider and have them tell you how they would handle each situation. You may be able to tell from their responses if he or she is the type of person who will look for ways to go beyond what is expected and really delight the customer. They must have a passion for what they do, and not merely look at their work as a “job”, but as an opportunity to do their part to positively impact people’s lives. That may sound a bit over the top, but there are very few jobs that don’t have the capacity to make a difference in some small way by how you interact with a customer or co-worker.

Consider a nurse in a hospital. Most are technically competent and say the “right” things to the patients. A smaller number actually have compassion and can sense a patient’s needs and go out of their way to comfort them.

While I was at Walt Disney World, one of the things they expected of every Cast Member was that if you were walking through a resort , park, or even office area, and saw a piece of paper on the floor, you were to pick it up and throw it away! Still to this day, I can’t pass a piece of trash on the floor without picking it up. Some Cast Members got it; other’s considered it below their “level” to pick up trash. You may think this is no big deal, but having a clean park was very important to many of our Disney guests and there was no way those Cast Members with the broom and rolling trashcan could keep the parks to this high standard.

Think about a call center agent assisting a customer who is stuck on the side of the road. Most all employees will provide the needed assistance. Only a handful will consistently try to picture themselves in the position of the stranded customer and show true empathy for their situation. It is those agents who will provide level “5” service!

Organizations that are known for providing world class customer service have figured out how to find, train, and retain those employees who day in and day out provide service that your customers will brag about with their friends and will keep coming back. One more secret: Those employees who enjoy serving others are happier, healthier, complain less, and will be surrounded by loyal friends.

Train your team to provide excellent customer service.