Excellence in customer service is a key attribute of many dominant brands. Consistently providing customers with a superior customer service experience requires an energized, motivated and knowledgeable customer service team. The key to providing an exceptional customer service experience is in knowing how to get there. In this week’s column, we review seven secrets to energized customer service.
1. Provide a common understanding of the mission: From the leader on down there needs to be clear and frequent communications on the mission of the company and the customer service department. Each member of the team should be able to verbalize the mission and understand the importance of what they do each day and its impact on that mission.
2. Utilize metrics: All departments need metrics. Yes, you can have too many metrics, but each department should have at least two and customer service is no exception. Once you determine what the optimal metrics are, they should be posted for all to see and tied to the annual performance review of the appropriate employees. One useful, but not often utilized metric for customer service is order acknowledgment turn-around time. The concept is to measure the amount of time it takes from the moment an order is received from a customer until the order is acknowledged with a delivery date.
3. Assure organizational alignment: In many businesses, customer service needs information and support from other departments. Be sure you “clear the road” and align the rest of the organization so the customer service team is supported.
4. Motivate and appreciate employees: Show your appreciation. A company that recognizes employees will create employees who recognize customers. Energize and motivate employees by showing them how important their work is to the success of the company and to the success of the customers. Considering having various and unique ways to show your appreciation and keep the team motivated. Special days such as jelly bean day, bagel day and hot dog day can assure a fun atmosphere and motivate your customer service team. You can also consider contests with prizes such as iPads, restaurant gift cards or other items that your team members would appreciate.
5. Provide the right tools: Assure you provide the customer service team with the best possible tools available to quickly support customers. That could be technology, access to information or support from other departments. Whatever is required for your business, be sure it is identified and provided.
6. Tie performance to annual reviews: Reviews are essential for performance management and employee feedback and this includes customer service. Customer service employees should receive a review once or twice a year. You should spend significant time preparing the review and assure there are no surprises. There should be communications in both directions during the review and you should be empathetic in helping to grow your team members. There also needs to be written action items that the employee should achieve prior to the next review in pursuit of the agreed to goals. As with all meetings, follow-up is essential.
7. Provide constant training: Various members of your customer service team will be at different levels, but even the most senior team members can use a refresher now and then. Gather ideas and use training from outside experts that can help your team be successful. This will assure continuous improvement and customer satisfaction. The team will also feel energized and motivated knowing that management is making the investment in them.
Energizing and motivating your customer service team is not hard. What can be hard sometimes in today’s busy workplace is to assure you remember to do it and do it continuously. Satisfied customers are the life-blood of your business. Your customer service team is on the front line supporting your customers and assuring they remain satisfied customers.