Culture as a number one driver of customer service

Much research has linked positive workplace culture to superior business performance. Robust data now supports the real benefits that engaged employees contribute to profitability and revenue. Gallup, in a large scale 2015/6 survey of over 100 000 employees, found more than a 20 per cent differential in profitability in businesses with engaged employees compared to those without*. Those are figures you can’t ignore.

In 2017 and beyond, businesses who fail to address low employee morale and motivation do so at their peril. Great workplace culture serves as a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talented workers.

Our global and highly digitalised world has made the job of engaging and retaining customers a challenge for business. Superficial communication abounds around us during a time of rapid change in the world.  The drive from modern consumers to judge, choose and accept or reject a product or service is driven by a marketplace where choice is made easy.

We are increasingly exposed to an astonishing amount of information each day – far more than our brains can cope with. Bombarded with bad news via the media constantly, we search for people and groups that will create an uplifting and happy experience.

The customer (or client but let’s just call them all a customer in this instance), reaction has been to attempt to find humanity amongst all the superficiality. They want to know and trust the organisation they choose to deal with.  Customers are more attracted to businesses who they perceive operate with a purpose – cultures that operate with integrity and values.

The good news is that a thriving workplace culture can be the silver bullet for customer service.  When you establish a positive, collaborative and innovative culture, your employees become the linchpin, driving ongoing excellent service.

The keys to driving a customer service culture in your business?

  • Communicate with your employees often and openly. Seek and act on feedback. (You may be surprised at the great ideas for driving better service that come from those close to the coalface!) You will receive more buy in if staff are part of creating the customer service solution.
  • Importantly, also obtain regular feedback from customers via methods that are easy to record and track.
  • Train staff on the importance of customer service to business outcomes Bain suggests that training is a key part of creating a customer service centric culture**. Employees require ongoing development in order to be engaged at work. Ensure your onboarding and recruitment reflects the type of workplace you want to create.
  • Lead authentically and with humility. Your employees are happier and more trusting in an atmosphere of transparency. They will in turn communicate more authentically with clients/customers when happy and relaxed at work. Customers don’t want to deal with autocratic one-size-must-fit-all organisations. I am reminded of a recent personal experience where, whilst grabbing my morning coffee, I observed a young café worker being berated by a business owner publicly in front of customers. Whether this poor girl had done something wrong or not was irrelevant to me. To humiliate her publicly (or at all) caused me to walk out. I’ve never gone back there again.

Create a value driven workplace with integrity and professionalism. Reward success. Be realistic in expectations and fair in assessing work performance.

Whilst not easy, committing to creating a great workplace with engaged employees is worth the effort. Make your employees your business’s biggest fans and customers will follow suit.

* http://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx
** http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/the-five-disciplines-of-customer-experience-leaders.aspx

Lexie Wilkins, Culture and Employee-Engagement Expert and Director, Lexie Wilkins Consulting

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