Everyone wants happy, loyal customers who will recommend your product or service. It’s no surprise that one of the best ways to attain this goal is to build your business around customer satisfaction. Companies with a customer-service orientation are more likely to retain customers, and show an improved financial profile over time.
But how do you create and develop that focus in your business?
Your corporate vision determines your values.
What is most important to your company? Be honest now − Is it profit? Technological innovation? Or is it people?
Whatever your answer, it is going to form the basis for your corporate culture. Your intentions will make themselves felt, even without a conscious decision to put them into practice. A profit-driven culture that pays lip service to customer orientation is likely to slip up somewhere. Your employees know what’s really going on, and your customers can instantly assess your real priorities based on your employee behavior.
Your corporate culture is the sum-total of your values, expectations, beliefs, and goals. It’s vitally, although indirectly, important when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Happy employees make for happy customers
People who find genuine satisfaction in their jobs will go the extra mile to make a customer happy. Studies show that customer retention rates are 18% higher when employees are highly engaged with their work. Give your employees the tools they need to succeed and empower them to act as they deem necessary. Show them that they are valued team members, and you’ll go a long way towards creating satisfied customers as well.
Create a good atmosphere at work
Foster trust and good communication between employee and management, employee and employee, and between different sections of the company. If your employees spend all their energy on in-fighting and jockeying for position they won’t have much left to be productive. If they’re afraid for their jobs they’ll spend their time watching their backs (and possibly looking for a new job), not taking care of your customers.
A workplace full of chaos and anxiety just saps your employees’ energy and will to work. And your customers will pick up on it right away.
When people feel that their superiors listen to and respond to their concerns and that the entire workforce is a team pulling together towards the same goals, they’ll feel happier and more relaxed at work. Your customers will see the benefits.
Reward the behavior you want to see
Logical, fair, consistent expectations and rewards give employees the feeling of security they need to do their best. If you tell your customer service reps that you want them to provide excellent customer service, but your most important KPI is customers per hour, you’ll quickly lose their trust.
To support a customer orientation, evaluate your employee performance based on the strength of their customer service, and provide incentives for improvement. Reward those who provide the best service – and not just with money. Show your appreciation in other ways as well. One great way to do this is to ask your top performers to help with training, so they can teach their secrets to the rest of your workforce.
Make a conscious choice to live your values
According to ModernSurvey, people who say that they fully know and understand their organization’s values are 51 times more likely to describe themselves as “fully engaged” with their work, compared to people who do not. Working in an organization with people who share the same values and goals makes people they feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves. This feeling of commitment and belonging helps bring out their best.
Hire and fire based on your values
Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.com, the online shoe retailer which is renowned for its customer service, talks about hiring for his core values in his book Delivering Happiness. Some of Hsieh’s values are customer service, a good team spirit, honesty, and the ability to adapt to change. He looks for these qualities and hires people that display them, regardless of their race, sex, color, tattoos, piercings, or hairstyles.
By the same token, people who are not a good fit for your values would probably be better off somewhere else. Don’t just look at their qualifications on paper; try to figure out how well they would fit into your company culture. It might be a good idea to get buy-in from prospective teammates and from other members of management, so that you (and your potential hire) know how they’d adjust to working at your company.
Provide training to reinforce your culture
Training is a great time to strengthen your workforce’s commitment to your values and provide direction towards your goal. You can help employees better understand your mission and their role in achieving it. Empower them to do their jobs by giving them the skills they need to succeed. It wouldn’t hurt to get their input, either. Your employees have a direct view of your day-to-day operations, and their insights might surprise you.
Your values help define your brand
Not all companies share the same values. Maybe your company looks for discretion, reliability, and tradition. The important thing is that you have clearly defined your core values and act in accordance with them. Show them in everything you do. Celebrate them. Tell your employees and customers what they are. They’ll be an important part of your brand either way, and it’s always better to take control of your image than leave it up to chance.
A strong, positive corporate culture is a win for everyone
A strong corporate culture reduces conflict in reaching your goals. Instead of wandering around in a fog, your employees know what is expected of them, and have the tools and support to deliver top-notch performances. Management has a strong vision and knows how to implement it. Your customers can sense your integrity and receive the benefits of your engaged and empowered workforce.
When you invest in your culture, you can see the results in your bottom line.