When people talk about customer service, what usually comes to mind is the experience most of us can relate to: waiting 17 minutes on a helpline waiting for someone to pick up.
But customer service isn't exclusive to these types of massive companies. In fact, customer service, by definition, is something that exists in businesses of every size--from your local pizzeria to a bank. In its simplest form, customer service is the act of "serving customers," and getting them what they need in the way they need it.
Now, you can't deliver great customer service unless your team is trained on how to do it. And truthfully, this is where so many companies fail. They know they need to "serve their customers." They know they need to take care of them, help them, educate them, etc. But they struggle to know how--and worse, the leaders of the company have no real idea how to integrate customer service into the fabric of their team.
But here's something I encourage all entrepreneurs to internalize: if the company leaders don't understand how customer service works, and demonstrate it on a daily basis, then it will be impossible for the rest of the team to follow.
So, how do you create a company culture that delivers remarkable customer service?
1. Walk the walk.
I've never understood when founders or executives have felt they were "above" talking to their customers directly.
I'm a people person. I like to get out and mix with my employees. It's just part of who I am. But it's not just a social habit. It can also be a tactical move. I have an acronym that I'm a big believer in called MBWA: Management by Walking Around. And I think it's a hugely underrated management skill.
The idea is, to be a successful CEO, you can't position yourself as some faceless leader who sits in your ivory tower and orders people around. That doesn't humanize you to anybody, much less your team, whom you want to inspire. But when it comes to promoting a culture of remarkable customer service, I believe you have to be the one to show the rest of the team how it's done.
Instead of constantly telling your team how to talk to customers, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and let them listen in. Show them. Live it. Breathe it. And I promise you, they will soak up your energy and approach over time.
2. Ditch "Transactional Thinking"
The secret to great customer service is in establishing relationships with every customer--and not just relying on the individual sales rep they know and have talked to.
The reason is because, what happens when that sales rep leaves your company? When one of my sales reps at my first company, Wilmar, left to work for a competitor, it didn't work out very well for that person. Why? The company owned the customer. So even when we lost a salesperson, we retained 80 percent of his or her book of business. We could retain most of his or her client book because we had installed customer retention support practices at the corporate level.
I strongly suggest you instill the same customer retention practices in your business. It really has to come from the top down if you want to make it a priority, so make it a priority. I'm already instilling best practices that will ensure every customer stays with my current company, LendingOne, assuring the company's performance (and not just one individual) is the primary reason for the customer's loyalty.
Nothing will impact your company's customer service more than a positive attitude.
These are instructions I share in one of the sections of my book, All In. When you smile through the phone, your voice sounds different. You sound like you want to be there. One of my pet peeves is when I call in to a customer-service hotline and get reps that clearly hate their job. You know what I'm talking about. These people are not smiling. They are unhelpful and unfriendly, and often speak their "script" in a robotic fashion, wanting to get off the phone as soon as possible so they can get back to being miserable. It's depressing to get someone like that, right?
At my first company, Wilmar, I was so adamant about wanting our customer service reps to smile when they were on the phone that I thought about ways to help them do it. I didn't want their managers walking around and forcing people to smile, so I thought of a different option. Everyone looks better when they are smiling, right?
So I installed mirrors that said, "Smile and Dial" in the workstations of all our reps to remind them to smile--and it worked.
Life is just better when you're being positive and treating people the right way. So smile already.