An Investment in Customer Service Training Pays Big Dividends
You may have heard the saying, “Customer service doesn’t cost. It pays.” Forward-thinking companies know the value of spending time and money to train their employees in delivering a good customer service experience. Consider these stats from my 2021 Achieving Customer Amazement Study:
- 73 percent will go out of their way to do business with a company that provides better customer service.
- 52 percent will pay more if they know they will receive better customer service. That number is even higher if the experience is easy and convenient.
- 79 percent trust a brand more if it delivers an excellent customer service experience.
And what if the service isn’t good? Here’s the ugly truth:
- 83 percent said they would switch brands or companies because of a bad customer service experience.
- 79 percent said they would switch if they knew of another company that will deliver a better customer experience.
- 67 percent said they would share bad customer service experiences with friends and family or on social media.
And there’s plenty more research to support the fact that it pays to deliver a good customer service experience. Our study indicates that customer expectations are higher than ever, especially due to the pandemic. Customers no longer compare a company only to its direct competitor, but instead to the best service they have received from any company. It doesn’t matter if it’s B2C or B2B, customer-focused companies set the new bar. That company can be Amazon, a shoe repair retailer down the street or a manufacturer with an amazing sales and service team.
Customer service perceptions are like beauty. They are in the eye of the beholder.
I used an interesting phrase above: customer-focused. The rock-star companies are customer-focused, but that’s not where it really begins. It actually starts with being employee-focused, with an emphasis on what’s happening inside of an organization.
"Customer service perceptions are like beauty. They are in the eye of the beholder." – Shep Hyken
So, how does a company go about becoming customer-focused? It’s about creating the right culture inside a company. Here’s a simple six-step process to get you moving in the right direction.
- Create a clear vision of what customer service is supposed to be in your organization. I suggest a one-sentence vision statement. I call these “mantras,” and they are short for a reason. A brief mantra is much easier to remember, and you want everyone in your organization to remember it. My favorite is from the Ritz-Carlton: “We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” When you come to work for this iconic brand, this is one of the first lessons you are taught. From there, they create training around making this vision come to life.
- Communicate the vision. This isn’t a theme for the month, or even the year. The vision is meant to be with an organization for years—maybe even forever. Communicate it often and in many different ways, from signage to swag that continuously reminds everyone of the vision.
- Train everyone! Beyond step one, this is the most important part of the process. Once you establish your vision, everyone must be trained to it. And not just once. It must be ongoing. For example, the Ritz-Carlton has 24 standards that make its mantra a reality. After initial onboarding in which the employees learn the standards, each day there is a pre-shift meeting where one of the standards is discussed. After 24 days, they start over. Throughout the year, the average employee will be reminded of each of these gold standards nine to ten times. They are constantly being trained on how to deliver the excellent customer service they are known for.
- Leadership must be a role model. Leaders, managers and supervisors must set the tone for how to act and for how customers are to be treated. They do this by practicing what they preach. They treat people on the inside (employees/colleagues) like they want the customer to be treated, if not even better. This sets the tone throughout the entire organization.
- Defend the culture. I once interviewed a number of CEOs. I asked, “What’s your most important job at your company?” One smart CEO said, “I must defend the culture.” His brand was recognized as a leader in customer service. He knew that if one area of the company, one department or even one person was out of sync with their vision/mantra, it could disrupt everything the brand was trying to achieve. This is the job of leaders, managers and supervisors. Defend the culture!
- Celebrate when it’s working. Let everyone know when they’re doing a good job. Celebration doesn’t necessarily mean you have to throw a party. Praise goes a long way in making employees feel appreciated. Recognize good behaviors and successes. Let people know they are doing a great job.
This process is simple, but simple does not mean easy. The bigger the company, the longer it will take. And it will take an investment of time and money, with the focus on training. What’s happening on the inside of the organization is felt on the outside by the customer. Creating the customer-focused culture with the proper training is the place to start.
For more customer service trends, check out our infographic on How Customer Service Defines Brands. And watch for our report on the technology trends around service and support, coming soon!