Many companies have in their mission or vision statements an emphasis on customer satisfaction. Indeed, keeping customers happy is more important than ever before, given the global marketplace and how connected customers are to each other and to other brands. But stating your intention as a company to delight customers and actually carrying out this intention consistently are two very different endeavors.
How can you bring the values of your company to please the customer from vague theory to day-to-day reality? The answer is in your company culture.
There are companies who manage somehow to cultivate a workplace culture flourishing with teams of employees who willingly and passionately pursue the happiness of their customers. Is this the type of customer-centric culture you’d like to build in your company? Read on to find out how.
Communication is everything
At the heart of any high-functioning relationship is good communication. Indeed, the task of building a certain company culture is rooted in relationships. From executives to managers, designers to customer service representatives, a high-functioning organization with a positive culture is a community.
By definition, “community” means “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” The following are ideas on how to improve communication at all levels of your organization in order to cultivate the customer-obsessed culture you desire for your company.
- Involve employees in development (or redevelopment) of mission/vision statements. It goes without saying that customer experience should be central to your organization’s goals. But what if you facilitated a dialogue among your staff (including customer service agents) to develop the exact language and focus of the customer experience? If employees have power and influence over shaping the company’s vision of customer service, they will have a greater sense of buy-in and purpose when carrying out this mission.
- Collect (and use!) employee feedback to help foster a workplace culture of engagement and agency. You may already have a VOC (Voice of the Customer) survey in place, but are you soliciting feedback from your customer service agents? They are the eyes, ears, and mouths of the company and brand, and what they think about how things are going matters.
Generate a meaningful employee feedback survey or process that gets at the heart of the customer (and employee) experience. But don’t stop there. Use this feedback to facilitate roundtable or panel discussions to explore problems and propose solutions together.
Your customer service agents are the closest link to your customers. If it matters to you what your agents think, then it will matter to your agents what customers think. Thus, a mindset geared toward the customer experience becomes not only possible, but natural and sustainable.
- Understand the journey of the customer. Customer journey mapping is a great tool for visualizing and understanding the experience of the customer. Companies who take the time to develop this valuable visualization tool offer their employees the chance to see and understand their role and how it helps the organization overall. This has positive implications for employee engagement, which is a known indicator of workplace productivity and happiness.
- Communicate customer feedback to employees. Don’t limit QA to its own little box or sidebar. Make it an integral part of day-to-day operations. Meet regularly to discuss customer feedback surveys or ratings. To cultivate a culture based on the customer experience, let your employees in on what customers are saying on a regular basis, and work together to troubleshoot any problems that emerge as a result of soliciting this feedback.
The trickle-down effect
Culture change starts at the top. If company executives expect to generate a customer-centric culture among their staff, they need to practice what they preach. It’s easy for upper management to fall into the trap of setting goals regarding the customer experience, and then treating the attainment of these goals as someone else’s (agents’) job.
Turning a blind eye to customer and employee concerns, priorities, and feedback in favor of the bottom line can easily influence workplace culture. If all you’re worried about is company profit, your employees will pick up their cue from you and worry only about their paychecks.
Hire selectively, train extensively, trust wholeheartedly
There’s a huge difference between quality based on rules versus quality based on culture. If you’re interested in cultivating a workforce with a genuine passion for wowing and caring for customers, micromanagement will not serve you well. Employees who enjoy a sense of agency and autonomy in their day-to-day work are much more likely to strive for authentic customer happiness versus following customer service rules robotically.
Many companies are letting go of scripts and giving their employees the space to use their vibrant personalities and good judgement when interacting with customers. Of course, this means there is a high level of trust between management and agents. Hiring the right people, training and guiding them thoughtfully, and letting go of the urge to manage their every move and word are all necessary components of an authentic and autonomous customer service workforce.
The great news, though, is that the more you trust you place in your employees, the more trustworthy they are likely to become as they are given the freedom to take pride in work that is uniquely their own.