The “Magic Formula” for creating a customer-focused team = A + B + C + D + E . . . .
What? There really is not a “magic formula” – instead there are many things that contribute to creating a team that is focused on your customers. One of the most important aspects though is to create an environment that motivates employees to want to take care of customers.
A customer-focused team needs employees that are personally committed to service excellence. Great service can be more effective at increasing profits and enhancing relationships with customers than marketing or advertising.
Some of the A,B,C’s of a customer-focused team should include the following:
- Sam Walton said it best, “Listen to everyone in your company, especially the ones who actually talk to customers. They really know what’s going on out there.” Listen to employee ideas.
- The ideas that are realistic and benefit the customer should be given serious consideration.
- No matter how far removed employees are from the front line, they need to know and believe that their work affects the customer perceptions of the company.
Management Involvement and Commitment
- Management, at every level and from every department, should demonstrate with their actions (and words) that they are committed to the delivery of exception customer service.
- Replace lip service!
- Staff meeting should focus more on meeting the needs of the customer than meeting the needs of the manager.
Internal Customer Service
- Is your environment one that reflects that “we’re in this together?” Help your employees to recognize that everyone in the company is all on the same team!
- Meet with other departments on a regular basis to build understanding and collaboration between work teams.
- Whiners and complainers should be challenged to come up with solutions to problems, rather than just talking about them!
Policies That Benefit Your Customer
- Are your existing policies and rules really necessary? This industry certainly has its share of regulations that must be followed. But when is the last time you stepped into the shoes of being your customer?
- Your policies and rules . . .
- Are they absolutely required, or do they fall under the notion that ‘we’ve always done it that way’?
- Who benefits from them – the company? Your customer? Both? Neither?
- Do they damage customer relationships? How often are they bent or broken? Are you measuring the exceptions?
- If a policy needs to be in place, make sure that every employee on the team why the policy is in place.
- Empower and trust your employees to do the right thing for the customer–right away. Management should coach employees in a positive manner after-the-fact if the disagree with how an employee chose to help a customer.
Training and Coaching
- These are both an investment, not a cost. It’s an investment in . . .
- Customer retention
- Employee retention
- One of the best tools for your ongoing support of your customer-focus is through training. Is it a priority in your company? Is coaching being done on a consistent basis?
- Provide training that equips employees with the skills and tools they need to deliver exceptional customer service.
Shared Customer Feedback
- Your customers should have a very loud voice. Every department within your company needs to hear from your customers.
- Have performed and share customer satisfaction survey results.
- Staff meetings are the perfect place to read letters and comments from customers.
- Encourage your team to come up with a list of open-ended questions they can ask customers on a regular basis to invite feedback and ideas for improving service.
A quality service program will derail in short order without the following three actions:
- Management commitment
- Employee involvement
- Continual reinforcement
As part of a customer-focused team, one of the most important questions to ask with every decision and interaction is, “How can I do my work in a way that will delight the customer?”
David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in customer service and sales skills training for utilities. He can be reached at 888-644-5499 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Measure-X Web site at www.measure-x.com.