We've all experienced situations where we aren't treated especially wonderfully or competently in our dealings with a business or organization. We tend to write it off as being about one bad employee even though customer service glitches are often a reflection of the company culture rather than a single person's actions. Thankfully, there are practical things any organization can do to improve its customer service approach:
- Create a culture of kindness where people treat each other well. If kindness is practiced toward them, employees are less likely to behave negatively.
- Have leadership model positive behaviors. The way leaders behave is reflected all the way down to front line employees.
- Encourage collaboration over competition. Employees who know how to work collaboratively are less likely to get into conflicts.
- Reduce stress. Find ways to make employees' lives easier instead of harder.
- Train employees on how not to internalize customer complaints. Show people that complaints are just someone else's opinion or experience and can be dealt with dispassionately and positively.
- Teach employees active listening skills so they don't automatically react to customer issues. When people listen instead of talking they find solutions more quickly.
- Train employees in effective communication, problem solving and conflict resolution. These core skills help people navigate even the most difficult situations.
- Hire employees (starting with leaders) who have self-awareness and understand how their behaviors affect others. The ability to understand one's own behavior and manage it is invaluable when dealing with the public.
- Allow employees to vent. Have someone on staff who knows how to listen to people and support them in difficult times.
- Train employees so they're experts. Give your people the opportunity to look good by giving them the knowledge and information they need to succeed.
- Develop an "I can help," attitude. Encourage employees to think creatively to solve problems instead of having their hands tied.
- Treat your employees very well. Pay generously, give people perks and encourage them to grow. Happier employees treat customers better.
You have a lot of control over the quality of your customer service. Your employees mirror the kind of company they work in and, as a leader, you set the standard that everyone else follows. When you treat your employees well, they're much more likely to do the same for others. What will you do to improve your customer service approach?