Before the end of the year, we spend time building our marketing plans, setting our operating budgets and creating strategic plans to drive our business forward.
One thing that I believe our companies and the public are getting better at, is understanding the importance of customer experience. Just look at all the content that is being created for customer experience improvement after a simple Google search.
As leaders of our businesses we need to do the following habitually in order to improve our customer experiences:
- Make improving customer experience a priority, instead of a thought or idea. This means that it needs to be a part of our quarterly strategic plans. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
- Invest in customer experience strategy just like we do in branding initiatives like marketing and PR.
- Continuously provide superior customer service skills education/workshops to ALL employees.
In thinking about the year to come, I’ve identified three customer service skills that I believe your employees can learn from. These are the same three customer service skills that I will be sharing with my team in 2020.
Customer Service Skill #1
Adopt The “Everyone is a Customer” Mentality
Here’s something I like to do with my team. Walk around your place of business, visit different departments, speak to three different employees and ask them,
“Who is our customer?”
Make note of what responses you hear. I’m confident that you’re going to hear three different variations.
The answer I expect is, “Everyone who interacts with our brand is a customer.”
Being in hospitality, it’s easy for our team to consider the guest who orders the $300.00 bottle of wine to be our #1 priority. But, for me, that’s not an authentic People-First Culture business.
If we truly want to be People-First then everyone, literally everyone, who interacts with our business needs to be served like they just ordered a top-shelf bottle of wine.
Here are some individuals who interact with our brands, that sometimes are neglected:
- Your future employees when you’re interviewing them.
- Your business vendors like uniform and seafood suppliers and bank and insurance representatives.
- Your investors
- The media
- The government
Now, consider who interacts with these individuals. Often, companies only provide customer service training for their frontline employees like customer care professionals and sales team members.
However, doesn’t your Purchasing Manager manage the relationship with your suppliers? Doesn’t your Controller manage the relationship with your bank and investors?
With this in mind, every single person on your payroll must receive customer experience training to ensure that everyone that interacts with your brand is provided an exceptional experience.
Starting with the right mindset and mentality will propel the other two customer service skills forward.
Customer Service Skill #2
Defensive to Offensive Customer Service (Switching Gears According to Customer Personality Types)
In my 2019 customer service skills post, I outlined three customer personality types we need to train our teams on, in order to deliver personalized experiences based on their preferences.
When delivering experiences from customer to customer, you need to ensure you don’t deliver the same experience to everyone the exact same way. I call this “switching gears.”
We need to teach our team members how to switch gears and go from defensive to offensive customer service. Defensive customer service requires active listening to understand what the customer’s goals are. Once that’s understood, then we switch gears and move into offensive customer service and act on what it is our customer’s desires are.
Balancing the two can be challenging. I have found that when we are fatigued our defensive mindset can grow thin. We become too concentrated on offensive customer service and go through the motions of doing just the bare minimum. This paralyzes us from being able to deliver personalized experiences for each customer’s personality type.
Customer Service Skill #3
“I really don’t have the time for that.”
This is what an entrepreneur said to me when I suggested that if he really wanted to build a People-First culture and get closer to his customers and employees, he needed to sit and listen to calls in his call center.
What I was recommending wasn’t an exorbitant amount of time. I said once every two weeks for an hour or two.
I outlined that this was a small fraction of his time to which he continued to suggest he didn’t know how he’d “fit it in.”
You see, he did have the time, he was just choosing to spend it somewhere else.
After all, entrepreneurs and leaders, I admire like Neil Blumenthal from Warby Parker make it a priority to do this. And, I’d suggest it’s working. Neil and his team are building a multi-billion-dollar brand in a very competitive market.
There are only a few reasons why a leader wouldn’t do something like this to get closer to their customers and employees to better the experience for them:
- They’ve never spent the time to really get connected with their frontline employees. This might be a bit too much, too soon.
- They pay lip service to be a People-First Culture leader.
- They think they are above this (this is the worst category to fall into).
This isn’t just for senior leaders. I believe all leaders, across all departments, should spend time every month with their customer care and frontline employees. Not only will they gain valuable insights, you will notice a spike in morale and a deeper connection between “the higher-ups” (I despise this term but using it here because it’s what your frontlines may be calling you) and the frontlines.
Make 2020 a pivotal year for you and your company. Will it be the year that you invest more in customer experience to gain market share, increase sales and profit? Or, will it continue to get the smaller piece of your operating budget? Investing in your people is an investment in your business. Give them the tools, training and customer experience skills they need to thrive!
Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.
Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.