“Exceptional Customer service is always voluntary,” says Steve Curtin, author of the book Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary.
And if that’s true, then it follows that you can’t force your employees to provide excellent customer service any more than you can mandate their happiness. But what you can do is make certain that they are inspired to engage, assist and care about your customers.
Empowering employees to engage
One way to inspire excellent work is to pay your employees well and offer them bonuses for excellent service. However, in this economy, small and large businesses alike are sharing the bad news of cutbacks more often than the great news about raises and bonuses.
Still, financial compensation and recognition don’t necessarily have to cost a lot. Simply acknowledging your employee’s contribution to excellent customer service in front of others can be enough to motivate. And small tokens like a gift card for a free espresso are always appreciated. Even an email or note letting your worker know that their attitude has been noticed goes a long way.
Another way to make sure that employees are engaged is to hire the right person for the job in the first place. It’s always best to find a person who feels personally fulfilled by the position you are filling.
True, there are some jobs that fulfill no one’s purpose in life—they are simply a means to a paycheck. But the truth is, any job can be fulfilling, even if it isn’t a person’s specific calling. Treating every employee with respect and dignity can make them feel like part of something bigger than their individual job.
Creating the culture
To create an environment where employees are willing to wow your customers with amazing customer service, you first have to create a company culture that values people. You must also continually demonstrate, acknowledge and offer incentives to your employees so that they know that good customer service is a top priority.
You may be thinking “everyone knows what good customer service looks like,” and this is probably true. We know what it feels like to be treated well as a customer. But it’s also true that not everyone fully grasps the idea that providing customers with the best experience is part of their job.
“Employees develop their own definitions of customer service and decide for themselves how they view customers: as honored contributors to the success of the enterprise, or as fickle adversaries who are just looking for the best deal. But most customer service employees have not made a conscious choice to provide exceptional service. As a result, they are indifferent toward both customer service and customers. Why haven’t they made a conscious choice? No one has asked them to.” (Curtin, p. 168)
So if your goal is to wow your customers with amazing service, remember these steps:
- Wow your employees with a culture that values them.
- Create and explain policies that put customer satisfaction at the forefront.
- Provide incentives to motivate employees to continue in exceptional service.