What to do when you realize you’re not great

Features - Customer Service

It’s easy to get discouraged or believe your business will never achieve true service success. The good news is you’re wrong.

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August 22, 2017

Too often, organizations recognize they have a service issue, yet their efforts to address shortcomings fail to solve the problem. In the worst cases, customer service initiatives backfire and motivate people to do less.

So, what’s going on? Usually, a few things.

Typically, there’s an organizational mindset misalignment, a lack of commitment from the top, an absence of recognition for giving great service, or a combination of all three.

In contrast, legendary service organizations have a service mindset and reward great performance. They eat, sleep, and breathe extraordinary service. They have a service mission, and it does more than sit in a frame on a wall in some conference room. It’s top-of-mind throughout the organization. People know it and live it through their daily interactions with customers and each other.

They design processes with the customer’s best interest in mind. Think about that well-known airline, so full of love for its customers, it allows them to cancel flights for full credit on a future trip. Clearly they believe most their customers won’t book travel they don’t need, and those who must make a change will eventually choose to fly with them again.

They hire people who genuinely love service and are proud to live the brand. They constantly retool the customer experience because they know what worked well in earlier years is long overdue for a makeover. And they educate. They want to make sure the people who represent the brand understand what the brand experience is and how to deliver it.

When thinking about everything the greats do, it’s easy to get discouraged or think your businessas will never achieve true service success. The good news is you’re wrong. While it won’t happen overnight, you can elevate your approach.

  1. Start by thinking about your purpose. What is it that your organization does? Articulate your purpose. Everyone needs to understand your core reason for existing and how the actions they take related to service support that mission.
  2. Next, think about your processes and how customers interact with you. Do you have your customers’ best interests at heart? If not, what changes can you make to remedy those shortcomings?
  3. Model what you want to see. People work for people. If you supervise others, they are watching and learning from you. If you are disengaged, they probably are too.
  4. Teach your staff what to do and how to do it. You can’t expect people to deliver great service if they don’t know how. Furthermore, you can’t expect them to care if no one at the top does. Take employee development seriously. Eventually, your people will do more, will make better choices, and solve problems more imaginatively.
  5. Hire for service skills. Think about what makes someone great at service in your organization and seek those attributes. Don’t settle. You’ll be sorry later.
  6. Reward Even if you have no budget, you can reward employees for giving great service. Start with a sincere “Thank you.” Heartfelt appreciation can work wonders.
  7. Finally, put on your continuous-improvement hat. Systematically evaluate where you’ve been, where you’re, and where you’re going.

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. .