Customer Experience News & Trends

6 ways to build a customer service culture that rocks

If you’re going to build a customer service culture, you might as well build one that rocks.

Nearly everyone in an organization touches the customer experience these days. So it’s more important than ever that the entire organization rallies around the customer experience.

“The most successful businesses have a shared mindset among employees,” said Jim Knight, author of Culture That Rocks, when he recently spoke at the ICMI Contact Center Demo in Las Vegas. “They don’t just talk about it. They talk about how can we make it better.”

Here are Knight’s six ways to build a stronger internal culture that’s destined to rock the customer experience.

1. Set the standard

Some companies “confuse culture with heritage,” Knight said. Heritage is part of establishing or improving culture, but it’s not the same, especially when it comes to the customer experience.

“Heritage is history, the past, a story,” Knight said. “Culture is a collection of people with unique behaviors. As people come and go, the culture changes.”

And customers care about the current state — the current culture — not your history.

“Celebrate heritage,” Knight said. “But focus on today’s culture.”

2. Create and share the mindset

Culture doesn’t usually evolve from a vision statement and set of guidelines that are posted on the break room wall. It’s a result of a shared mindset on how people will treat their work, colleagues and customers. Leaders and employees should be part of creating those expectations.

Once everyone has the same expectations, their actions — from how they do their work and take responsibility, to how they cooperate with co-workers and respond to customers — align.

“It’s like getting everyone singing off the same sheet of music,” Knight said.

3. Personalize it

A common culture doesn’t mean that everyone is treated the same at all times under all circumstances. In cultures that rock, employees and customers get customized attention.

“People crave differentiation,” Knight said.

A culture that allows employees and customers to connect on a personal level encourages emotional attachments. That builds employee and customer loyalty to the brand and company.

4. Become authentically customer-obsessed

Companies that build a culture around customer service get lifelong “raving fans,” Knight said.

How? Because employees embrace the culture (after all, they helped create it) they want to connect with customers and create relationships through authentic interactions (not generic transactions).

One way to have more authentic customer interactions is to inject appropriate humor into conversations, Knight said. If a customer doesn’t respond to it, you know to keep it professional going forward — and nothing is lost.

5. Avoid 4-letter words

Customer-focused companies religiously measure how they’re doing. And when they hear or see any four-letter words in customer feedback — such as Okay, Fine and Good — they jump into action to recover.

“Those words scream mediocrity,” Knight said. “It means customers aren’t blown away, and they’ll find something cheaper or better.”

In addition to gauging the customer experience, ask employees, “What are we doing now that we can be better at?” and “What’s the competition doing that we aren’t?”

Always looking for ways to improve is the key to helping your culture evolve.

6. Bring in amplifiers

“The people who put your vision out there make it the reality,” said Knight.

So you want to focus on hiring the right people to amplify your customer service culture.

Knight suggested you hire people who are:

  • solidly competent. They may not know your stuff, but they know their stuff. They’re trainable.
  • of good character. They won’t try to mess with the existing harmony.
  • a cultural fit. They don’t have to be a clone of other employees, but they need to have values in line with your company’s.

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