In several of our past blogs, we have drawn the connection between customer service excellence and business growth. This known fact has been embraced by successful C-level executives. In fact, many organizations seek to achieve service excellence by hiring someone for the newly developed role of Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer. To quote customer service expert and author Jeanne Bliss, Chief Experience Officers have a mission to:
“…work with the leadership team in building the consistent behaviors, decision-making, and company engagement that will prove to the organization that leaders are united in their commitment to earn the right to customer-driven growth”.
However, even without a Customer Experience Officer to oversee this crucial aspect of business operations, you can still achieve service excellence with the resources that you have. But first let’s reiterate why service excellence is so important.
Why Excellent Service is Important for Business Growth
- Higher Revenues – Simply stated: If we have better customer satisfaction and retention, we have higher revenues. According to research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit Research for customer experience Value of Experience: How the C-suite Values Customer Experience in the Digital Age, companies that prioritize customer experience investment show higher revenue growth (59% vs. 40%) and are more profitable (64% vs 47%) than companies where this is not the case.
- Customer Loyalty: Satisfied customers are loyal customers. Surveys show that even a 5% increase in customer retention can increase company revenues by 25-95%. They not only buy more often, they also spend more than new customers. They’ve learned the value of a product or service so they keep coming back. Which leads to…
- Lower Acquisition Costs – Maintaining a loyal customer base reduces the cost of acquiring new customers – by the repeat business and customer marketing (word of mouth) that a loyal customer will provide. This in turn contributes to the overall profitability of the business.
Convinced? Let’s consider ways you can begin to achieve service excellence for your business.
Ways to Prioritize Customer Service in Your Business
If you have a vision and desire to achieve service excellence but aren’t sure where to begin, these pointers should be helpful.
1. Create a Customer-Focused Culture – This point hasn’t been better phrased than by the late Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos:
“Customer Service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the entire company.”
For your frontline to be able to deliver outstanding service, it has to be made an integral part of your organization’s core values. In other words, it has to come from the top! Simply directing your staff to be caring and hospitable will not work. Your values need to be instilled within the culture of your organization and across all departments.
This includes your internal customer service culture – i.e. how your employees are treated, and how they treat and serve each other, regardless of their position or rank within the company. Let’s look at the role of onboarding…
2. Make Customer Service Part of Your Employee Onboarding – Everyone in your company should know about and embrace your customer-focused culture. In fact, as we discussed in a previous blog post, anyone you hire for a customer-facing role should have a natural inclination to listen, care and serve. For example, as part of your employee onboarding process, new hires should receive an in-depth orientation on customer service protocols and best practices that are unique to your sector.
3. Train and Empower Your Workforce – As we said earlier, providing customer service instructions or setting a vague set of expectations is not enough. Employees need the right knowledge and set of skills required to be able to consistently deliver service excellence.
Some ways to impart this knowledge is through:
- Customer service training
- Peer training
- Mentorship programs
Additionally, easy guidelines to refer to will empower your frontline to make quick decisions so they can resolve issues without delay.
4. Reward Employees Who Provide Service Excellence – Another way to fortify your customer-focused culture is to reward employees or teams for their excellent service. This can be done in the form of awards ceremonies, bonuses, promotions and simply providing verbal praise and recognition.
“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way you will treat your customers and that people flourish when they are praised.” – Richard Branson, Entrepreneur and Founder, The Virgin Group
5. Create a Reputation for Service Excellence – When we look at companies that are known for their service excellence they have these qualities in common:
- The desire to serve – Employees don’t view their job as a task
- Positive tone – A cheerful and supportive tone is used when communicating
- Ability to listen – Customers feel their concerns are being addressed
- Customized service – Customer needs are met on an individual basis
- Careful attention – There is attention and effort to make the experience as happy as possible
- Customer feedback – Customer feedback is taken very seriously
- An element of delight – An added ‘wow factor’ in the form of outstanding products or services, creative solutions and customer delight.
Once a reputation for service excellence is established, your company will not only prosper, you reap other benefits such as positive online reviews, customer fandom and advocacy and community – if not global – recognition in the form of service excellence awards.
6. Reinforce Service Excellence – It’s important to continue to reinforce service excellence by talking about it at company meetings and events. Visual reminders are a great way to do this, since employees see them on a daily basis:
- Hang up inspiring quotes or success stories
- Put company motto signs up in your break rooms
- Adding fun backdrops to your Zoom rooms
Remember that customer service is an ever-changing, ever-evolving aspect of business – so the ability to change with your customers’ desires and needs is key – especially in this digital age! One way to do this is to get your business certified every year. This will ensure that you are keeping up with any new customer service strategies and best practices.
In conclusion, implementing these important tips should set you on your way to creating an organization that is known for service excellence. Your company will flourish, grow and enjoy great success as a result of embracing these essential values.