Annually, in the first week of October, many organizations recognize those employees upon whom delivering exceptional customer service depends. Browse Twitter with the hashtag #NCSW17 or #CustomerServiceWeek and you’ll find a stream of celebratory photos and callouts acknowledging great works.
As wonderful as National Customer Service Week is, we cannot lose sight that delivering More Than Perfect® customer service is about more than photos and captions. It is a culture of excellence, a commitment to exceeding expectations, leadership that values people over policy and a calling to help others.
The following five articles address these factors; from the factors that shape our perception of great service to the ways in which we manage our people and the strategies we employ to grow our organizations for repeat business.
A recent study finds a huge disconnect between how businesses in a wide range of service markets perceive the quality of their customer service and how consumers actually feel. “The customer is the judge and jury when it comes to rating our customer service,” writes author/speaker Shep Hyken for Forbes. “It is the customers’ perceptions that determine if we’ve met or exceeded their expectations — or fell short of them.” To turn satisfied customers into customer evangelists, you have to talk to them, survey them and understand what they want, not what you think they want. Shep’s article details distinct data points that land businesses and consumers on opposing shores.
“Instilling the vision of yourself as a servant rather than a supervisor will set an example for other team members and help shape the values guiding your team,” writes Provide Support’s Julia Lewis (@provide_support) in this article encouraging managers to assume a less authoritative leadership style with employees as a way to deliver better customer service and customer experiences. “Genuine leaders love their teams and serve their best interests, they spark inspiration and encourage hard work. By enlisting personal and professional growth of your team as your determined commitment, you focus on helping them develop new skills and get more expertise.”
If you worked in 100-plus degree Fahrenheit temperatures with poor ventilation for weeks on end, how good would your service to customers be? Business school researchers tested that very scenario and found that a person’s discomfort on the job directly affects their ability to regulate emotions and willingness to be helpful. For managers of customer-facing teams the implications are clear. If you provide a comfortable work environment, this study in Northwestern University’s Kellogg Insights asserts, you’ll improve performance.
“Customer-facing employees need and deserve more than the temporary excitement of contests and the like,” writes Forbes contributor Micah Solomon. Too often, employees are de-empowered by corporate messaging that undermine rather than bolster delivering exceptional customer service. Micah calls for an end to employee onboarding that only sets up a person for the many ways they might be fired, devaluing training and ignoring the valuable input employees can contribute to scheduling and staffing issues.
As businesses reach 100-250 employees, you cannot ignore culture, writes Hubspot’s Michael Redbord for Harvard Business Review. Don’t ignore cynicism, don’t tolerate isolation and don’t value process over people. In this fascinating exploration, Redbord deconstructs the do’s and don’ts that must be the focus of leaders and their custom service teams as the company cycles from the founding stage with a few employees through scaling up to several hundred. Every stage demands a different type of leader who can manage the existing team, balance business priorities and build for customer success.