Leadership doesn’t make “a difference.” It makes “the difference.” That is true in all area of an organization, and especially true in creating extraordinary customer service.
You might be able to manage good service but you must lead to achieve great service. How? Here are ten key actions leaders can take to create extraordinary service for their organizations:
1. Empower employees. Enable your team to make decisions that benefit the customer. Don’t make them get permission from someone higher up. That takes time and aggravates the customer. Be clear on what employees are empowered to do to make customers happy: how much they can spend (money and time) and what actions they can take based on the situation. Empowered employees feel more invested and are more likely to go the extra mile for customers.
2. Exemplify behavior. Show your commitment to service by modeling the behavior in how you treat employees, vendors and customers. Foster a customer-centric culture. Put the customer at the heart of all business operations. Can you honestly say you have a service mindset? Employees will believe more of what they so you do than what they hear you say.
3. Train better. Regular training and development programs can significantly enhance the skills and knowledge of your staff. I’m talking about something more than “smile and grin training” which is too basic to be very useful. Your customer service reps need to be students of human behavior, know what questions to ask, what to see and most importantly what actions to take. The most motivated are discouraged by a lack of skills to get the job done.
4. Maximize feedback. Systems that gather customer feedback can provide invaluable insights IF you act on the information. This ties in with your advocacy for listening to and learning from customers as a way to drive improvement. Gather feedback at every opportunity, but don’t make it oppressive for customers to provide.
5. Personalize interactions. The goal isn’t just to create a sale, but to create connections. Personalization will greatly enhance customer delight. Neither customers nor employees want to be treated as a number or revenue unit. Learn more about each customer and what is important to them.
6. Leverage technology. Having good technology doesn’t count if it isn’t used well, and some technology can encumber employees who would like to give better service. Utilize technology to improve customer service efficiency and effectiveness. This could include CRM systems, chatbots, or data analytics tools.
7. Reward extraordinary. It you don’t recognize and reward extraordinary service, people won’t think it is a priority. Acknowledging and rewarding employees who deliver outstanding customer service can motivate the entire team. This idea resonates with your philosophy of recognizing and celebrating achievements.
8. Communicate better. Communicating more isn’t necessarily communicating better. Sometimes it creates information overload. Clear, consistent communication, both internally and with customers, is critical. This is a principle that you’ve likely emphasized in your presentations and writings.
9. Convert complaints. Solving a customer’s problems shows you are committed to them. That’s how you convert complaints into commitment. Promptly and Effectively**: Efficient complaint resolution shows customers that their concerns are taken seriously. This approach is in line with your teachings about turning challenges into opportunities for growth. Nothing like a call from a C level exec to prove to a customer he or she is valued.
10. Intensify improvement. Regularly review and improve customer service processes. Schedule regular meetings to brainstorm how to add value to the customer experience. Design for positive customer emotion.This commitment to continuous improvement is a theme that runs through much of your work.
By implementing these strategies, rooted in leadership principles, you can transform customer service into an extraordinary experience for your customers.
Mark Sanborn is motivational keynote speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. His presentations help the best leaders get better and inspire listeners to choose to be extraordinary. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com.