Most companies say they have great service. Fewer have created an actual customer service culture that thrives. Have you?
Some companies let service be the centerpiece of their cultures, according to John Tschohl, president of Service Quality Institute. And it pays off. They’re almost always rewarded with consistent business, strong customer satisfaction and continuing customer loyalty.
Take, for instance, the Disney parks. “The reason (they excel) is that the company looks at everything through the eyes of the customer,” Tschohl says.
Here’s how Disney and other top customer experience companies have created and maintain a customer service culture that drives their successful businesses:
1. Top management guides it
The CEO and/or board of directors value customers and employees. They consider the good of their customers — as much as, if not more than, the bottom line and investors — when they make business decisions.
They talk about customers in C-suite meetings. Some organizations have been known to keep an empty seat at corporate meetings so everyone can think of customers in that seat and consider them when making decisions.
Top management also interacts with customers, whether it’s getting out to meet and talk with them or sitting side-by-side with customer service pros while they help customers.
2. They insist it’s easy
Top service-oriented companies make it as easy as possible for customers to do business with them. Even top management remains accessible. They don’t believe in hiding customer assistance in difficult phone systems or seldom-answered online tools.
For instance, Discover offers customers a toll-free number that’s answered almost always by a person in a couple of rings. It also offers 24/7 online chat so customers can get answers the way they want, when they want them.
3. Everyone gets trained — often
At top companies, all employees get customer service training. They know some employees, who don’t necessarily have customer-facing jobs, will hear from customers. The companies make it a priority for all employees to know how to work with customers with courtesy, respect and curiosity. Even if they can’t answer a question, they can expertly and kindly find someone who can.
In many cases, employees get new tools and tips to help customers every four months, according to Tschohl.
For instance, Disney backs up initial training throughout the year with mentoring, leadership training and continuing education — all with some focus on their job duties, customer service and career development.
4. They look to other leaders
Most customer service icons look to other stand-outs as benchmarks. They look well beyond their own industries, too. Some of the strongest to follow have been Nordstrom, Amazon, Ritz-Carlton and Disney. You can even find gems in manufacturing.
Here are several solid practices we’ve cited on Customer Experience Insight for benchmarking by the categories they’d fall into: