Tag Archives: service culture

A-Z of service culture

a-z service cultureHere is a summary of my mini video series on the A-Z of Creating a Service Culture.
Find the full series here: https://www.youtube.com/user/carojcooper/

 

A for attitude

To help you create and maintain your service culture only recruit people with the right attitude who fit in with your service culture and you are confident can deliver excellent customer service skills. You can train people in technical skills, but you won’t be able to change their attitude so include this in your selection criteria.

https://youtu.be/jzCb3zzvGM4

 

B for Behaviours

Your service culture will be influenced by your actions and behaviours – towards customers and towards your team. Behaviour breeds behaviours so be a role model in tune with your service culture or the service culture you want to create. You must demonstrate first class customer service skills for your internal customers as well as your external customers if you want your team to demonstrate first class customer service skills too.

https://youtu.be/ojtPFKkMZcA

 

C for Consistency

To achieve a positive service culture, you must have consistency. Consistency of your expectations, your standards, systems. Everyone must be able to meet your standards, not just your exceptional team members. Systems should mean it’s easy for people to deliver your standards on a day to day basis making it easy for your team to contribute to your service culture.

https://youtu.be/-YYxjvgLvRk

 

D for Development

Invest in your team’s development so they feel part of your service culture. This isn’t just developing hem for a promotion, but about tapping into their strengths and stretching them to keep them engaged so they are more likely to deliver a wow customer experience and fit in with your service culture.

https://youtu.be/tzg3ndLD7SE

 

E for Emotion

More than 50% of a customer’s perception of your service will be down to the emotions you create i.e. how you leave them feeling. When building your service culture it’s important to identify the emotions you’d like to create for your customers at each touch point on the customer journey for the ideal customer experience. Recognise that you may want different emotions for different customers. Once you know the emotions you want to create it’s a lot easier to identify what needs to be happening at each touch point on the customer journey t achieve these.

https://youtu.be/jLtNTubxUj0

 

F for Feedback

When building a service culture it is important to gain feedback from your customers as well as giving supportive feedback to your team members. Customer feedback will tell you what is important to them and how well you are meeting customer expectations – all important when shaping your service culture. Even if you don’t agree with their feedback ask what has led to their perception. When giving feedback to team members let them know what is good and where they can improve. Use the AID model to give supportive feedback.

https://youtu.be/1T1_mjPrHO4

 

G for Glue

One way to help your business stand out from the competition is by adding some GLUE. GLUE stands for Giving Little Unexpected Extras. To help build this into your service culture, start by adding some GLUE for your team members. When they experience this first hand, they’ll be far more likely confident to add GLUE for your customers. But to make it part of your service culture you must empower them to do this. Give them examples and a free hand to do this.

https://youtu.be/aWQtQx8tMtU

 

H for Happy

As Simon Sinek says “Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order”.

Your employees create your culture. So if you want a positive service culture it starts with positive employees. Not only do happy employees result in happier customers they are also more productive, less likely to leave and more likely to be ambassadors for your business. Here are 4 ideas to create a happy and engaged team

https://youtu.be/7L5CgSZ1Xdo

 

I for Interested

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt

Showing you care is an important factor in creating a service culture. This doesn’t just apply to customers, but also to your team members. The easiest way to work out what’s important to your team members and show an interest is to ask them. Ask what they enjoy, what’s important t them about their job. But, it’s not just about work, what are their interests outside work. What do they value? Understanding these factors and taking account of them all helps create a happy team as discussed in the last video.

Take an interest in your customers too. Find out their priorities and what they value, so we can easily identify how to add extra value with things they will appreciate.

https://youtu.be/27WKwuFkK3E

 

J for Journey

Map the whole of your customer journey from the very first touch point to the very last. Bear in mind the last touch point on the customer journey may be some time after they have bought from you. Consider how well you maintain the relationship with your customer after they have bought.

Once you have mapped you customer journey, define the emotions you want your customers to experience at each touch point. This becomes a useful training tool for your team.

https://youtu.be/B6Q26e5XYtI

 

K for Knowledge

Lack of product knowledge leads to frustration for both customers and team members who have to spend time seeking information.

Giving your team thorough product knowledge is key if you want them to be able to describe and promote your products or services, or do any ‘upselling’.

https://youtu.be/oG1nmYDqTsg

 

L for Listen

Your service culture will be impacted by how well you listen.

Listening to customers is of course important and will have an impact on their perception of your service; show that you are listening by responding accordingly – how many times as a customer do you feel your comments have fallen on deaf ears?!

It’s not just your customers though, but also your team. Failing to listen to them can be demotivating; which inevitably has a knock on impact on the service they give your customers.

https://youtu.be/Io4IA7vmxXQ

 

M for Measure and metrics

If all your metrics focus on profit, productivity and sales that may be counter to your good intentions of creating a service culture. Put metrics in place that will help you measure your service. Whether these are based on repeat business, customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, recommendations, customer reviews, or any other metrics it’s important they are aligned to your service values and are compatible with metrics in other areas such as sales.

In the video I cover considerations to ensure your metrics do actually enhance service, not hinder it.

https://youtu.be/2xnL3XnQxJk

 

N for No no’s

Saying no to a customer can come across as if you don’t want to help. That doesn’t mean to say that you never say no, but there are ways of saying no in a positive way, and your team need to know how to do this.

In the video I cover 3 stages.

Always tell people what you can’t do first, before telling them what you can do instead.

https://youtu.be/STy04iD6if0

 

O for Ownership

Failing to take ownership is frustrating both for customers and colleagues. This might be anything from taking responsibility for complaints, even when it’s not your department, passing on messages to colleagues, or even just picking up litter in the car park.

No customer ever wants to hear “I can’t help you, you need to speak to xxx” or “They’re not hear today; can you call back tomorrow?”

Or the manager, you don’t want to hear people complaining “that’s not my job!” or “That’s not my fault!“

It’s not just your customer facing teams who need to take ownership; your customers won’t differentiate between someone who has a direct responsibility to customers and those who are support staff or even third party providers. Either way, these people represent your business in the customers eyes, so it’s important everyone takes ownership.

In the video I cover 3 things you can do to get people to take ownership.

https://youtu.be/546C4nilsxc

 

P for Perceptions

Recognise that your customers will often see things from a different perspective, therefore will have a different perception. This doesn’t mean they are wrong! They simply see things differently.

It’s therefore important to review the whole of your customer journey from a customer’s perspective, which often highlights things that can be improved or refined in some way, and gain more understanding for the customer.

It’s even more important when you’re dealing with problems or complaints. This is especially true when you don’t necessarily agree with them. Whether we agree with them or not , the first thing is to identify what has led to their perception.

https://youtu.be/aNMUBUc_7SA

 

Q for Quality questions

The ability to ask quality questions is a vital skill for anyone dealing with customers as well a key leadership skill, so plays a key role in creating a positive service culture.

Your team need to develop the skill of quality questions to understand your customers’ needs and expectations, so include this in your customer service training. This is particularly important when dealing with problems or complaints to really understand the issue so that they are solving the right problem! It’s important customers recognise that they’ve been understood, and the better the questions the easier this will be.

Good quality questions also help managers to get the best from their teams, to understand individuals within the team, and demonstrating you care about them. They are also a good way to involve your team to get buy in, to find out their ideas, and to aid their development by getting them to think things through for themselves, all of which helps with employee engagement and staff retention.

https://youtu.be/h3mUyFC9ssI

 

R for Recognition

Of course it’s important to recognise your valued customers and reward their loyalty. But building a positive service culture starts with your team and ensuring they feel valued and recognised. The more your team members feel proud of the job they do, the more this rubs off and gets picked up by customers so has a knock on effect on your customer service.

In the video I cover 7 ways to recognise your team which in turn will make them feel valued and aid employee engagement and staff retention.

“If you treat your employees like they make a difference, they will” Jim Goodnight, CEO, SAS

https://youtu.be/AqtiFtTEIdg

 

S for Smile

A simple smile is so easy, but can have a dramatic impact on your customer’s experience and how they feel. A smile is infectious, if you smile at someone 90% of the time they will smile back and it’s difficult to feel grumpy when you smile.

Create an environment where everyone feels they have something to smile about. A warm smile and a cheery good morning to your team is a good start and helps to engage your team. They are far more likely to follow suit with customers…

https://youtu.be/tIrB-HILE14

 

T for Trust

Do you do anything in your business which sends an unconscious signal to your customers that you don’t trust them?

What about with your team? If they feel that you don’t trust them, they might feel under valued, and can be a source of employee disengagement. Empower your team to do the job they are employed to do, and to do what’s best for your customer under the circumstances. Give them flexibility to find their own way of doing things, as long as the end result is achieved. Create an environment where it’s okay for people to make a mistake, as long as they learn from it; people will be far more likely to own up to errors if they are confident they won’t be reprimanded or punished.

Earn the trust of your team. Demonstrate personal integrity.

Be open with your team and how your own vulnerabilities, and admit your own shortcomings; the more open you are with them the more open they will be with you.

https://youtu.be/E8EAgGvZYhM

 

U for Unselfish

In building a positive service culture you people on your team who are prepared to go out of their way to help others, will go the extra mile for customer, even if that means staying late, or will help a colleague, even if it means getting behind with their own work.

Take account of this need for unselfish people when you are recruiting. Look for evidence and examples of them going out of their way to help others in their previous role. Do they get involved in any charity work, volunteer for organisations, or do any type of unpaid work such as coaching a kid’s football team. How do they feel about giving up their time, passing on their skills, or sharing their know-how for the benefit of others?

https://youtu.be/G700xYePhHo

 

V for Values

Your customer service values are your way of saying “this is what’s important to us about the way we treat our customers”. They represent a way to share beliefs that relate to your purpose.

It really doesn’t matter if you refer to them as values, vision, mission, ethos or philosophy, just so long as you have something which acts as a guide for everyone within your business to relate to. You don’t need to a engineer, your values. In the video I outline 3 factors to consider to ensure your customer service values mean something to you, your team and your customers.

If you’re looking to create a positive service culture, start with defining what good looks like, I defining your customer service values. And if you already have, customer service values check how well they are understood and met on a day by day basis.

https://youtu.be/ZsvyCLaEfUg

 

W for Watch your words

Your choice of words can influence people’s perceptions of you and your business, so they are bound to influence your culture.

For more on words and how they can shape your culture go to:

https://www.naturallyloyal.com/words-impact-customer-experience/

Be mindful of your vocabulary, terminology and the words you use, and the emotions they create.

In most cases over 50% of people’s buying decisions are based on emotions rather than logic, so if were not creating the right emotions, this can impact not only our customers perception of value, but also hit your bottom line (just as it did with Gerald Ratner a few years ago!)

https://youtu.be/Fo3fkMwX5jA

 

X for Exceed expectations

In creating a positive service culture is not enough to aim for merely meeting customers’ expectations, we need to exceed customer’s expectations.

To meet and exceed customer’s expectations we need to:

  1. 1.understand their expectations, and recognise these don’t stand still; customers’ expectations are always changing and increasing
  2. Be continually making incremental improvements
  3. 3.involve your team in looking for opportunities to improve the customer experience: opportunities to add unexpected extras, pre-empt customers’ needs, solve their problems, save time and effort, adding a personal touch
  4. 4.empower your team to do whatever is best in any given situation to meet and exceed the customer’s expectations

https://youtu.be/pHXwUEpvT2o

 

Y for Yes

A positive service culture includes having people with a positive mindset and who will always be trying to find a solution for the customer, so aiming for a yes, rather than a no.

However, Yes, but can sound confrontational and doesn’t get you any further forward, whereas yes, and keeps the conversation positive, and shows you are listening.

Making the switch from ”Yes, but…” to “yes, and… “can take a bit of practice, so at the end of this blog post is an exercise you can do with your team: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/yes-but/

https://youtu.be/ZjjnReyB8Lc

 Z for Zeal

The dictionary definition of the is a great enthusiasm, eagerness or desire for a cause or movement. In this instance the cause or movement is for your customers have brilliant service and a fantastic experience. It’s not enough for you to have the enthusiasm, eagerness or desire, it’s also important to create that in your team, so everyone is striving for your customers to have a fantastic experience. When you are enthusiastic (and have zeal) this will rub off on to your team.

https://youtu.be/aHPk21eVXxI

 


 


Ways with Words and how they impact customer experience and service culture

words impact service culture

Do you remember the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?

Won’t they?

Ask any experienced marketing copywriter and they’ll be able to tell you just how powerful words can be in creating both positive and negative emotions, and prompting people to take notice, put up barriers or take action.

In today’s video in my mini video series on the A-Z of creating a service culture (we are up to the letter W now) I talk about the importance of your choice of words, and how some can create a positive or negative emotion; not from a marketing perspective, but how they might impact how your customers and/or the team members feel and how this gets reflected in your customers’ experience and service culture.

 

Building Rapport

People generally like (and feel more comfortable with) people like themselves. Using similar words, terminology and expressions helps build rapport with customers and team members alike. So, listen out for the terminology others use and try to use their terms rather than yours.

(This extends to showing common interests, common goals and common values.  So, assuming you share these let them know, as these can help to bond you together.  A relationship with a customer or team member will be a lot easier if you share something you have in common.)

 

Adding Value

Do you remember how Gerald Ratner described the jewellery he sold in his (up till then successful) jewellery stores?

The words you use to describe your products and services will have a big impact on how people perceive them, and the value they place on them.

Describing something as ‘just…’ or ‘only…’ can work to play down the price, but when you’re describing a product or service you have the impact of diminishing its value. Instead, use powerful words which will create emotional appeal (bearing in mind that most buying decisions are based more on emotions than logic). Such as: gorgeous, luxurious, delicious, creamy, warming.

Teach your team to use such descriptions for your products and services. That doesn’t mean to say they need a script, but get them to identify what – for them – best describes that product or service, a description they are comfortable with when explaining to a customer.

 

Dealing with disagreements

Whether it’s handling complaints, dealing with poor performance, or simply having to say no to a customer or a team member, your choice of words can have a big impact. Some are like red rags to a bull. Here are a few examples we so often hear…

Yes, but… As soon as anyone hears the word ‘but’ they know they are about to be contradicted. See: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/yes-but/

It’s our policy – no one cares about your policies, they just want to get what they want (or the next best thing).

You can’t, you have to, you must – people don’t like being told what to do; offer suggestions, recommendations, if you do X you’ll get Y (Y being a solution or something of benefit to them).

That’s not my job, that’s not our department, that’s not my responsibility.  Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do – even if this is simply helping to put them through to the appropriate person or department.

 

Blinded by science

It’s easy to fall into the trap of using industry jargon, but if your customer or team member is not familiar with this jargon, it can make them feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or patronised.

Don’t dumb down if you don’t need to, but just beware of using terms others either simply don’t understand or could be misinterpreted.

 

Common courtesies

Ensure your greetings are sincere; there’s a huge difference between a scripted, bland and robotic “how are you today, sir? ” without even bothering to look up or listen to the answer, and being greeted with a sunny smile and a cheerful “Good morning, Mr Smith! We haven’t seen you for a while; welcome back!”

Using someone’s name when you greet them makes them feel more valued. However, never shorten their name unless they ask you to. So, Mr Smith doesn’t become Fred, Andrew doesn’t become Andy or Deborah doesn’t become Debbie unless that’s what they request.

Never under estimate the value of a heartfelt “thank you” be that to a customer, team member, supplier or colleague.

 

If you only do one thing

Over the next 24 hours take stock of the words and language you use and listen the words your team use.

Ask: do these create a positive emotion or leave people with a negative impression, and how well does the outcome reflect the service culture you want to create.


Your Song

The new John Lewis Christmas advert was released last week. I have to confess, I’ve watched this several times on YouTube, as Elton John’s Your Song has to be one of my favourite songs of all time. As a teenager, when this was first released, I would play it over and over; it’s one of the few songs from which I could recite every word.  And because my mum loved it too, each time I hear it, it reminds me of her.

What has this got to do with your customer service culture?

This prompted me to think about 2 things which are important factors in creating a service culture:

Emotional triggers and anchors

We are surrounded by things that can impact our emotional state or our mood. And these are so easily picked up by customers. This is fine when it’s a positive emotional state, or a state that helps us to get into rapport with the customer.

Not so good when it’s a complete mismatch, or when we have negative emotions which are picked up by the customer, albeit subconsciously.

These emotional states can be prompted by the things other people say or do (when we’re surrounded by mood Hoovers, it’s inevitable this rubs off), the day’s events (e.g. missing the bus, or getting stuck in traffic, so we are late for work), or even our anticipation of future events (you’re not looking forward to speaking to that particularly difficult customer).

But, as in my case with hearing Your Song, it could be a sound, such as piece of music or birdsong, it could be a scent or a particular smell, it might be the touch or feel of something real or imagined. Or it might simply be recalling a scene from a movie, a fun night out with friends, or the first time you saw a particularly amazing view. Any of these things have the capacity to change someone’s emotional state, but it will be different triggers for different emotions and different triggers the different people.

So, how does all this relate to customer service?

If we know that some states will have a negative impact on the customer experience, we need to look to changing that state to one that is appropriate.

Firstly, we need to break the negative state. Simply by changing our physiology can help (think how we are on a car long journey and we are feeling sleepy, if we get out of the car and walk around for a few minutes we’ll normally feel more alert).

But we then want to replace this with a more positive state; so, the trick is to identify what triggers will work for you to elicit the right state.

Putting that into context, for me, hearing Your Song makes me feel rather sad, so although this very easily elicits an emotion, it might not be the emotion I want when I’m dealing with a customer. So, if I wanted to get into a very happy state, I know – for me – picturing a particular scene from the film The Full Monty always brings a smile to my face.

What’s Your Song? And the trigger that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face?

And just as important, what’s the one thing that is guaranteed to bring a smile to their face for each of your team. You don’t have to know what this is, but it’s important that they do, so they can get into that happy state, even when their day has got off to a bad start.

The second factor in creating a service culture? I’ll come back to that next week.

 

 


Tears of frustration

Since my arm came out of plaster (following my mountain bike accident in July) I’ve been having weekly sessions with an occupational therapist to help get the strength and mobility back in my wrist and hand. It’s been a long, slow process, but on each visit I’ve made incremental improvements.

As you can imagine, some of the exercises she puts me through are testing, and at times quite painful. The thing is though, it’s one thing, doing the exercises with her at the hospital, but it’s quite another when I have to do these for myself 10-15 times a day at home.

And last week this led me to tears. Not tears from the pain, but tears of frustration.

I just couldn’t get one of the exercises right, and I knew if I couldn’t get it right here with the therapist guiding me there was no way I was going to get it right at home.

One instant she was tell me I was doing it wrong, and then the next she’d say “well done, that’s much better”. But the frustration was because I simply couldn’t tell the difference between doing it wrong and doing it right!

If we think in the workplace, are there ever times when we spot a team member doing something in a way that we know won’t get them the right result, but however much we pick them up on it, they still don’t get it right?

When we have to correct them on the same thing, time and time again, of course, this is frustrating for us, but it’s probably just as frustrating for them if they really don’t know what it is they’re doing wrong. Particularly when they really do want to get it right.

If this ever happens to you here are some pointers that might help…

What tells you it’s right or wrong?

The more specific you are about the tangible and measurable indicators, the easier it will be for the other person to measure their success.

Quantitative standards or pointers are easier to interpret than qualitative ones. So, for example, if you want phone answered quickly, specify in how many rings. When it comes to qualitative standards, it can be far more open to personal interpretation, so giving examples and/or demonstrations (and of course leading by example) can be helpful, but still be prepared to make the comparison between the right way and the wrong way.

Often, it’s subtle little nuances that make all the difference to reflect your service culture or improve employee productivity.

What’s the impact?

If people understand the end result they’re aiming for, this can help clarify why something is right versus why something is wrong. They can often see or feel for themselves that the wrong way doesn’t achieve the result they want and vice versa.

What to do differently?

Once people know what’s wrong (specifically), and why, it’s considerably easier for them to grasp the right way; or even to identify the right way for themselves.

Getting them carrying out tasks the right way, in comparison with the wrong way, is a step forward.

But…

It’s very easy for people to go back to the wrong way, particularly if that feels more comfortable, is easier or is quicker.

Human nature says we’ll always take the path of least resistance!

Until someone becomes fully competent and confident in the right way, (and we’ll assume here they already have the commitment and capacity to do things the right way) it will be all too easy for them to slip back into their old comfortable way of doing it.

So, be prepared to give further coaching, support and feedback until they have formed new habits.

And avoid those tears of frustration. For both them and you!

 


No time for customers?

One of the biggest barriers I come across when I’m helping business owners develop their customer service culture or delivering customer service training is when people believe they don’t have enough time to devote to customers and delivering a memorable customer experience.

In this short video I give some suggestions to help get over this.




Valuing your Values

valuesYour values are your way of saying “this is what’s important to us”. They represent a way to share beliefs that define your culture.

When we talk about customer service values it’s a way of describing what we see as important in how we treat our customers.

Of course your customer service values must tie in with the whole ethos, culture and brand identity of the business.

The clearer your values the easier it is going to be to define how you will deliver them and communicate these to everyone else involved.

If you don’t already have your service criteria clearly defined start by defining your company values and expectations towards the customer experience. What is the style and ethos of your business, and how is this reflected in the way you serve your customers?

What do your customers value most?

Naturally there needs to be a correlation between what’s important to you and what’s important to your customers.

This has to start with an understanding of who your ideal customers are and what’s important for them, what your customers expect and how they define great service.

When everyone in your business has the same snapshot of the ideal customer it’s so much easier to define the ideal customer experience you’re working on. This in turn means it’s easier for every effort to add value.

Ask yourself not just who they are, but identify what need you’re meeting or problem you are solving.

Why do your customers buy from you specifically? What makes your business, venue, offer or service different? Why is your experience better than anyone or anywhere else?

Live by your values

Your values should be living and breathing, being evident in EVERYTHING you do. Not shut away in a filing cabinet!

Define how these values will be evident in the ideal customer experience. Define exactly what behaviours your team need to demonstrate to live by your values (i.e. what you expect to hear people say or see them do.)

And reinforce these consistently. Set an example so you are living by your values each and every day. Recognise when your team members demonstrate your values, and don’t let things go unchallenged when they are not being met.

So, what are your customer service values? What do your customers value most? And what can you do to be sure your team live by your values each and every day?


“That’s not my job”

A true customer service culture is more than just a sheep dip customer service training exercise for your front line team.

Service is everyone’s responsibilitycustomer service culture

It’s part of your DNA and reflected in everything you do. A bit like a stick of rock – no matter where you break it the core message is still the same.

This means it goes far beyond how your customer facing teams interact with customers.

It isn’t just the responsibility of the sales team, the receptionists or customer service desk.

Everyone in your business contributes in some way to the customer experience either directly or indirectly (or why are they there?).

This includes how your support teams not only interact and serve your external customers, but how they serve the internal customer. How your customer facing teams are supported and treated internally will inevitably have a knock on effect on your customers. So include them too in your customer service training.

The more customers are kept in mind for every decision taken in the business the easier it will be to give a consistent level of service to your customers. This includes the design of your internal as well as customer facing systems. It means recruiting the right people; i.e. not just for their technical skills but those who are aligned with your customer service culture.

Everyone in your business must understand the basics, what good service looks like and recognise the role they play in achieving this. Not by having endless policies, but by having the freedom to use their initiative to do what’s right for the customer; be they internal or external.

Your customer service ethos has to be demonstrated by everyone in your business not just the front line team.

See also  Actions Speak Louder Than Words