Improving customer service by making it personal for workers

Most businesses have a keen recognition of how customer service can make or break them. It’s easy for customers to share their opinions and experiences on social media and other platforms, so news of bad service travels fast and people vote with their feet.

The good news is that the desire to provide great customer service comes naturally to most Australian workers. Therefore, improving it could simply be a matter of harnessing that desire and rewarding those workers.

Recent Qualtrics research revealed that 88 per cent of customer-service workers go out of their way either all of the time or most of the time to ensure customers have a good experience. For those workers, 80 per cent go out of their way because it’s personally satisfying and only 12 per cent do it because their compensation will increase.

In addition, the research showed 90 per cent of the survey respondents said creating a great customer experience is in their top five priorities. Yet only 41 per cent say their employer rewards them for helping deliver a good customer experience.

These results show that, while most customer-service workers will do their best to provide excellent customer service in all conditions, they still value feedback highly. Organisations that can provide recognition and action on that feedback can achieve a double benefit. On the one hand it demonstrates to customers that they care about their experience; on the other hand, it shows employees that their efforts have been noticed.

We have identified four key steps businesses can take to improve customer service, even if they already pride themselves on providing excellent customer service:

  1. Tie customer service to compensation. Understanding what makes employees tick is crucial to get the best performance from them. Companies should, therefore, survey their own staff to find out whether tying customer service quality to compensation could boost performance.
  2. Ask for customer feedback. Getting this feedback from customers and communicating it to employees will help both groups feel engaged and will likely help improve customer service performance.
  3. Recognise good performance. Of those that don’t care what customers think, 21 per cent said it was because employees don’t get recognition for good customer ratings. This suggests that, if companies did recognise those employees’ contribution, they could see an upswing in performance.
  4. Hire employees that are naturally customer-obsessed. The survey results showed that many customer-service workers do their best work regardless of external factors. Hiring people that share these values is an important step towards providing exceptional customer service.

With so many workers clearly keen to provide great customer service, it’s easy to imagine the improvements businesses could achieve if they took these steps. No matter how good a business’s offering is, it can always be better. Companies who do it best can outperform their competitors, which is important in an increasingly-disrupted market.

Bill McMurray, Managing Director – Asia Pacific and Japan, Qualtrics

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