This week I returned from a more than two week trip to Japan. It is interesting to see the different cultures. We all accomplish the same things, but each culture has a different approach to how we do things. Of all the things I noticed, their customer service was something that stood out. It didn’t matter if I was in a restaurant, convenience store, department store or grocery store, the employees were always polite and took pride in their customer service. The customer service made some of the more mundane chores of the trip seem more pleasurable. This week I talk about how to improve your customer service through employee satisfaction, and I offer a challenge that can change your life and your business for the better! Thank you for reading!
How happy are your customers?
We differentiate ourselves from our competition because of our customer service. Every company I’ve worked for or worked with will tell you that customer service is important. This means that your company is focusing on customer service, and so is your competition.
We also know that not all companies have great customer service. Have you ever had to deal with the cable company, or your cell provider? Once you get through the thousands of frustrating menu items that don’t help at all and finally wait another 20 minutes on hold “for the next available representative” finally your call is answered by someone that just wants to get you off the phone! At best the person on the other line is indifferent to your problem, and frequently they just don’t want to help.
Allow me to digress for a moment and talk about sports. When I learned to play golf, the first fundamental I was taught was how to properly grip the golf club. In tennis I first learned the proper way to hold the racket. I now coach little league baseball and it is important to teach the kids how to properly hold a baseball, or grip a bat. With all the things that go on during a golf swing, tennis swing, baseball throw, or batting swing, why is the grip the most important? Because your hands are your interface with the equipment. If you want a ball to be thrown correctly, if you want the golf club to be square when it impacts the ball, if you want to transfer power from your body to a bat when hitting a baseball, that happens through the hands. If that connection point isn’t correct, then you have little chance of being as successful as possible. Sure you can achieve some success. You may hit the ball, throw a strike, or get in a good golf shot, but the chances of repeated success are dramatically reduced.
In the business world the employees are the interface with the customers. Whenever someone wants to do business with your company, chances are they will talk to an employee. If your business is primarily on-line customer service is even more important, because when someone does contact your company it is usually to resolve some issue or complaint about a product or service. At this point what message are your employees sending to your customers?
Customer service starts with your employees. This is why it is absolutely important to develop and maintain an employee focused culture in the workplace. I’ve written about the importance of loyalty, the need for people to grow. These things are important because helping employees grow creates loyalty and gives them a sense of satisfaction in the work place. In other words, it makes them happy. My nine-year-old son told me once “happy wife, happy life.” Let’s move on beyond the question of why does a nine-year-old know that, but the simplicity of the statement rings some truth. If a member of the family isn’t happy, then that dissatisfaction extends to the rest of the family.
If you think about it, when you get home from work, if there is an issue in the household you can feel it right away and it can alter your mood. When you go to a restaurant, if the server is happy and upbeat you’re more likely to have a better dining experience than if your server comes across as angry or indifferent. There probably wouldn’t be any difference in the quality of your food, but there is a difference in the quality of your dining experience.
If you want to improve your customer service, you have to improve your employee satisfaction. Happy employees make happy customers. Customers like to buy from someone that makes them feel good. Happy employees make customers feel good. Happy employees make great customer service. When someone does contact your company with a complaint or a problem, having a positive attitude from your company helps resolve the issue and leave both parties feeling satisfied.
Above customer service, creating the right culture in your company will reduce turnover and actually help you recruit new talent. People want to work at a place that makes them feel good, like their efforts are appreciated. Take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your customers, the customers give recommendations to their friends, and you make more business.
The challenge this week is to take an honest look at the culture of your team and company and see how the employees are treated. The best metric is customer satisfaction. How many referrals do you have? Are your customers doing business with you even if you are not the most affordable? Are your employees emotionally involved in their work, or just going through the motions? Is your employee turnover higher, or lower than industry average? If you are not leading the industry in employee satisfaction, then you are not leading in customer satisfaction. If you are not leading in customer satisfaction, can you be leading in your industry?
From 2 employees to 20,000 employees, creating an employee first culture will help you grow your business, your career, and bring you closer to the results you are looking for!
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Quote of the Week
“Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.”
– Jeffrey Gitomer
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