Think about the last time that you ate at a restaurant and the service was poor. If you’re like me, the poor service affected your overall impression of the business, even how the food tasted! Now, you'll probably also agree that great service makes the whole meal more enjoyable. TARP Worldwide, conducted a survey to understand why customers leave businesses, and the results are interesting…
Here are the results from the survey:
|Percentage||Reason for Leaving|
|14%||Unhappy with product|
|9%||Lured away by competition|
|5%||Influenced by a friend|
Wow! When it comes to keeping customers, how we serve them is over four times more important than what we actually sell as a product or service! It’s pretty clear that in order for our organizations to thrive, we have to focus on customer service.
For the past few weeks, we have been talking about what a strong, inspiring culture looks like.
The ERC (Employers Resource Council) compiled a list of characteristics of “great workplaces that excel at the attraction, retention, and motivation of top performers” based on 15 years of surveys and interviews. 
The leadership practice of having exceptional customer service and quality in the workplace corresponds with an attribute in the ERC report:
Great workplaces are successful, growing, and innovative. They hold themselves to high standards, are focused on delivering exceptional customer service and quality, and strive to innovate and continuously improve their organizations. They are always raising the bar in their businesses and in their workplaces.
Customer Service Blueprint
If we are going to serve our customers well, it has to start with our key leaders. But leaders are busy with their important day-to-day duties. So how does a leader find time to create a culture that supports and encourages excellent customer service?
Every leader can improve the customer service in their business by addressing the following three areas in their organization.
Leaders need to be aware of the importance of customer service. If you don’t understand that this is a crucial part of your business, nothing will change.
High level messaging
One area for leaders to target with their customer service emphasis is the high level messaging of the organization.
Here is an example from our company:
Our Purpose Statement, “Customers For Life”, reflects our desire to develop and sustain long-term customer relationships. This defines why we exist as a company. I also took this further to include our suppliers. I wanted us to help our suppliers to be the best they could be so they could help us serve our customers with exceptional service and quality.
Ways and Approaches
Every organization has its way of doing things. It also has certain methods of approaching business challenges, their suppliers, their employees and their customers. Often times, these “ways and approaches” are not written down, they just exist by means of repeated behaviors.
In our company, we realized that our impact on the market would be the result of what thinking, processes and behaviors we repeated on a daily basis. Instead of just letting these important behaviors randomly happen, we decided to codify our desired ways of thinking and doing into our “Ways and Approaches”. Here is one that relates to customer service:
EEE (Triple E) – Give a customer an Experience that Exceeds their Expectations. When we meet a customer’s expectations, we have just satisfied them. However, when we exceed the customer’s expectations, we have delighted them.
You’ll have your own unique high-level messages and ways and approaches to serving your customers. The important thing is to be intentional about this area of your business. When you draw your “blueprint” for customer service and use it to lead your people, you’ll have a clear plan to follow as you take your business to the next level.
How do you encourage an attitude of exceptional customer service with your team? Leave a comment to this post and share your perspective.
PS: Here are links to the first ten posts in this series on great workplace cultures.
- How to Win in the Marketplace
- Two Ways Leaders Can Improve Their Cultures
- How to Hire the Right People
- Are You Investing in Training and Development?
- 7 Ways You Can Up Your Communication Game
- The Secret Every Leader Needs to Know
- What Does Dr. Seuss Know About Building an Inspiring Culture?
- An Uncommon Way to Grow Your Business
- 6 Ways to Achieve Work/Life Balance
- Who Else Wants Confident and Courageous Employees?
- Get Gold Medal Results for You and You Company
 Technical Assistance Research Programs
 yourerc.com “HR Insights Blog” ERC (Employers Resource Council), 5-Sep-2013 (12-Aug-2014).