They encourage each other, proactively solve problems, and constantly look for ways to go the extra mile. In short, imagine a workplace culture where employees were absolutely obsessed with customer service.
Almost every leader wants this.
My new book, The Service Culture Handbook, provides step-by-step guidance on how to get there. It combines lessons from elite companies with practical advice that's easy to implement.
Most important, it shows what customer-focused organizations do differently. Here are a few highlights:
#1 Customer-Focused Companies Have Clarity
Here's an easy way to test the strength of your organization's customer focus. Pick a random sample of employees at all levels (executive, mid-management, and frontline). Ask them to answer these three questions:
- What is our customer service vision?
- What does it mean?
- How do you personally contribute?
Employees in customer-focused companies can give clear and consistent answers to these questions. That's because their organizations have a clearly articulated customer service vision that's consistently reinforced.
#2 Customer-Focused Companies Engage Employees
Will we ever stop talking about employee engagement?
Probably not. It's important but there just aren't many companies that are good at it. According to Gallup's most recent employee engagement report, the percentage of engaged employees has remained relatively flat since 2013.
There is a silver lining in that report.
According to Gallup, the best companies have 70 percent or more of their employees engaged. And they do it by following a few basic steps:
- Employees know how the organization defines success.
- Employees know what's expected of them.
- Employees feel they are making a contribution.
These same key drivers are the ones customer-focused companies use to ensure employees understand the customer service vision.
Sure, there's a bit more to it than that. Which leads us to number three.
#3 Customer-Focused Companies Are Committed
"We're working on customer service this year."
I've heard many executives make that statement. Each time, I know they're bound for failure. Why? Because customer service isn't something you treat like a New Year's resolution.
Customer-focused companies have leaders who are truly committed. Here are just a few things that set them apart from the rest:
- Customer-focus is a way of doing business, not a side-project
- Strategic decisions are made with customers in mind
- Customer-focused leaders consistently model the culture
- Employees are truly empowered to deliver outstanding service
- Customer-focused leaders take the long-view on investing in service
I'm sorry to tell you that culture isn't a quick fix. You need to be fully committed if you want to make a lasting change.
These three characteristics of customer-focused companies are just the icing on the cake.