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Here’s something your customers won’t ever tell you but that you had better understand: Your employees probably treat your customers about the same way you treat your employees. Let that soak that in for a minute, and think about the ways your everyday behavior might be affecting your organization’s ability to generate positive buzz.
Organizations that provide the best customer service consider service traits when they hire and treat their employees like prime target customers. It makes sense, of course; happy employees are much more likely to represent the brand in a positive manner. Let’s face it: Companies aren’t capable of making emotional connections; people are. But it takes effort.
In all but the most technical positions, much of what employees do on a day-to-day basis can be taught. It’s much harder, however, to teach someone to be trustworthy, to give, or to serve. Yet, as stated above, these are key traits of organizations that known for great service.
If your organization has more than two or three employees it’s a pretty good bet they will interact with customers and prospects in ways that will affect your brand. So the question is, are you hiring and training to create a service culture?
See, it’s not enough to simply hire passionate, motivated, people persons. Any organization that then also treats these stars like units of production will eventually kill all the get up and go they bring to the table. In addition to hiring for fit, you must also commit to making them a part of the brand.
You’ve got to include them in the key story, drill and reinforce your companies’ set of core beliefs, and include them in the essential elements of your marketing. The best customer service providers understand deeply what a company stands for and is empowered to make decisions based on the ethos of the brand.
The fact of the matter is that everyone in the organization is on the customer service team – the only question is do they know it? If your CEO isn’t taking customer calls and occasionally responding to customer service requests, there’s a good chance your overall customer service strategy is lacking.
It’s become almost cliché to write about the online shoe retailer Zappos (www.zappos.com) when covering the topic of customer service. After all, much of the company’s meteoric rise came about through the buzz of passionate customers, and it’s a story people love to share.
Sometimes, however, we read about what great customer service a company has and we fail to credit the innovative processes and hard work that went into creating it.
Zappos forged an incredible culture-building tool it calls “The Offer.” Most Zappos employees work the phones in customer service roles. When a new employee joins Zappos, they go through four weeks of paid training and are immersed in the company’s strategy, culture, and obsession with customers.
About a week into the process Zappos makes “The Offer.” They tell each employee that, if they quit that day, they will be paid for the week of work plus $1,000 to quit.
What Zappos discovered was that if someone was willing to take them up on the offer, then it probably means they were never going to be the kind of customer-obsessed, high-energy employee so important to the brand.
I interviewed Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh for the Duct Tape Podcast and shared that less than 10 percent of new employees take the money and quit.
My guess is that the cost of keeping uncommitted folks far exceeds the offer cost in letting them go.
Image credit: dougww