CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - How to create a service culture that lasts

Special Reports

How to create a service culture that lasts

Monique Richardson

There are many ways to keep reinforcing knowledge shared during training and orientation. Creating a service culture is a long-term commitment driven by caring and focused service leaders. Try these practical ideas to keep customer service alive.

Start all meetings with a customer focus

Start every single meeting in every department with a message of customer focus. It could be about improved results, team wins, positive customer feedback, or a service challenge. However, you do it, making customer service the number one agenda item at every meeting across an organization sends a compelling message.

CEO forum

Creating world-class customer experiences starts with a customer-driven CEO. Having the CEO regularly reinforce the core messages via a town hall (virtual or in person), video messages, or a newsletter is an excellent way to show senior leadership support and demonstrate the importance of the customer.

Celebrate wins and successes

Celebrate team or individual wins and successes and tie them back to efforts. For example, one council I worked with had a higher-than-desired number of outstanding customer requests. They shared this with the leadership and the team, and with a continued focus on reducing these and celebrating the wins along the way, they managed to get outstanding customer requests down to zero. I was very excited to receive a text message from the leadership team telling me of their success! Celebrating can include sharing customer feedback, improved satisfaction results, and increased net promoter scores. Shout the wins from the rooftops so everyone can hear them.

Focus on visual artefacts

Visual reminders are important — from screensavers and mouse pads to recognition walls filled with customer compliments, scores, and service standards posters. Keep these fresh and updated; nothing is worse than faded, tattered posters or old results from 2015. Visual collaterals keep messages alive.

Utilise video

With the increasing use and impact of video, try some of these ideas. A monthly recording from the CEO. Short videos on a topic or a customer from each department on rotation. Share an inspiring TED talk or video on a service topic. Create a TikTok video with a quick clip or even a message from a customer. Get creative with video — any smartphone will do, as the message is more important than the camera quality.

Share stories

Storytelling is incredibly powerful, from customer stories to team members or leadership stories. It is an art that can be learned and incorporated into videos, newsletters, a company e-book, or shared in meetings. In the words of Gabrielle Dolan, global thought leader on strategic storytelling, ‘Facts inform us, and stories influence us.’

Include customer service in everyone’s position description

Whether in a customer, non-customer-facing, or leadership role, customer service must be in everyone’s position description. Its absence sends a message that it doesn’t matter. From an employee perspective, why bother focusing on something that is not expected? Make it clear from the outset, then refer to it in ongoing catchups and reviews.

Use metrics that matter

The expression ‘That which is not measured does not get done’ rings true here. Clear goals must also be part of team goals. If there are no metrics around customer service performance for customer roles, non-customer facing, or leadership roles, it will not be considered important.

Provide ongoing training

Ongoing training with embedding strategies is crucial for long-term behavioral change. The most successful organizations I work with have an annual focus on customer service training to keep the message alive and to continue to upskill the team. The content changes each time and is part of the ongoing development for each team member. Once again, this training must extend to customer- and non-customer-facing team members.

Share financial success

While this can vary depending on whether you’re in the commercial or government sector, bonuses related to customer service results send a very powerful message. They reward performance and ensure everyone knows their role matters. Organizations such as Herman Miller have profit-sharing and employee-owned businesses.9 Financial recognition is another way to increase buy-in for customer results and motivate everyone to focus on the customer.

Incorporate customer service training into orientation

Every new employee needs to be introduced to the service mindset and culture of the organization. Do this as close to the start of employment as possible. I appreciate this may be difficult, as sometimes orientation is delayed until there are enough people to conduct a formal program.

I recommend each leader creates a simple orientation focused on the customer for each team member on their first day.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote, ‘Virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions.’ The writer Will Durant interpreted this as ‘We are what we repeatedly do… therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit.’ In other words: Excellence isn’t this thing you do one time. It’s a way of living. It’s foundational. And that is the core message in reinforcing and sustaining a service mindset and culture; it is an ongoing and constant focus every day.

Written by Monique Richardson.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - How to create a service culture that lasts
Monique Richardson
Monique Richardson, author of "They Serve Like We Lead – How To Take Care Of Your People So They Take Care Of Your Customers" is a service leadership and customer service expert. Monique is a highly sought after global speaker and trainer who is obsessed with transforming customer service cultures through a service leadership driven approach.

Monique Richardson is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn.