In business today, customer service has gone beyond being just another department, to becoming a very critical component in the relationship between a brand and its customers. Organizations that offer exceptional service are often leaders in their various markets. From Apple, to Southwest Airlines, to Four Seasons, to Zappos, to Amazon, to Disney. These brands all have one thing in common – a great service culture.
It is not mere coincidence that these brands, known for their great service are also industry leaders in their various markets, this is because they have invested in developing a solid customer service culture. Various research has found clear correlations between a great service culture, employee engagement, customer loyalty, and profit. If you’re still wondering if it’s worth it to start the transition to a customer-focused culture, here are 7 rewards to consider –
1. Better Employee Engagement
An outcome of having a customer-focused culture is also making policies and creating incentives that improve employee engagement. The reason for this is that, employee engagement and customer satisfaction go hand-in-hand. Before any business can begin to deliver great service its employees must be engaged, and committed to the service culture. You cannot deliver great customer service, without having a customer-focused culture and engaged employees who live and promote this culture.
Also, because the enthusiasm and passion of engaged employees cannot be imitated, it is seen and felt by the customers when they interact with these employees or watch them do their jobs. This, in turn, sets a positive tone for the interaction between the customers and employees – the sort of interaction that leaves both parties feeling good. Employees feel fulfilled, and the customers feel satisfied.
2. Better Trained Employees
Building a great culture involves continuously training staff on its ideals, how their various roles fit into it and what actions can or cannot promote the culture. Investing in the personal and professional development of employees contributes greatly to building an exceptional customer service culture.
An organization that invests in training employees demonstrates that it cares about their continual development and progress. This motivates the employees as they become more efficient in handling and dealing with customer requests. It is also important for them to understand the various products and services on offer, and the necessary knowledge to resolve customer issues satisfactorily.
Having a great service focused culture creates the conditions for well-trained employees, who understand the organizational culture, buy into it and have the capacity to execute it.
3. Improved Staff Retention
When customers are satisfied with the quality of service they receive, even when things go wrong, they are a bit confident that the issue would be resolved. As a result, complaints and exchange of negative emotions with employees reduce drastically, this makes the employees more productive as they channel their energy and resources into resolving the customer’s complaint.
With better-satisfied customers, quality training and an exciting work environment, employees are even more likely to remain with an organization. Especially when they are rewarded and recognized for taking actions that promote the culture. (Read: Reward and Recognize Excellent Service)
4. Customer Loyalty
Everyone loves to spend their money where they feel good about doing so. If customers enjoy the quality of service your organization offers, you can be sure they will come again. And if they have to patronize competition for one reason or the other, they will be reminded of your great service is by the contrast in the level of service offered by the competition. They will be eager to experience that great service they have come to expect from you again and again.
A great customer service culture gives you an edge over competition. One that is very difficult to copy. This edge makes it possible for your business to retain a larger customer base, which competitors will find difficult to break into.
5. More Referrals
In addition to a loyal customer base, customers who are impressed by the sort of service they have received will share their experiences with; friends, family, peers, drinking buddies and even total strangers.
Word of mouth advertising is the most trusted form of advertising, thus the brand has by having a great customer service culture amassed anonymous salesmen and women who advocate for and promote their products and services for free!
6. Higher Prices
Oracle released a research report in 2012 titled “Why Customer Satisfaction Is No Longer Good Enough”. The report revealed that: 81% of consumers would be willing to pay more for a superior customer service experience, with nearly half (44%) willing to pay a premium of more than 5%.
In another survey by American Express in 2014, 68% of consumers said they’d be willing to spend more with a company that they believe provides excellent service. 74% said they have spent more in such a situation.
On average, consumers say they’d pay a premium of 14 percent for superior service. – 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer
To put it simply, customers really want the service or product to work smoothly, but they also want to know that they will be given adequate support when it doesn’t, and they are willing to pay extra to ensure they are guaranteed a high and consistent level of customer service. This indicates that offering great service opens up an opportunity to charge a premium for the quality of service being offered – therefore expanding income margins for the organization.
7. More Profits
More engaged employees, loyal customers, more advocates & referrals and the opportunity to charge a premium for services opens the door to great profitability –
A loyal customer base gives the brand multiple opportunities to cross sell other products to the customers and increases their lifetime value significantly
Improved employee retention reduces the cost of hiring and training new staff.
Referrals from advocates increases the customer base and reduces the cost of marketing new prospects
Premium prices increase income margins
All of these make a business profitable and solvent in the long term. Developing a great customer service culture inspires a series of organizational changes that can set off chain reactions that lead to very profitable outcomes.
Bonus: A Strong Brand
Any business that masters that art of having a solid customer service culture is bound to become a benchmark brand in its market. It would be a brand that customers use as a reference to describe positive service experiences, and also one that competition would want to model in designing their service strategy. In essence, such a brand becomes a leader in its market and a household name for consumers.
Gone are the days when customers quietly accepted mediocre service and inconvenience and still spent their hard-earned money. The best way to get and keep customers these days is to offer service better than what competition is offering. In today’s competitive landscape, no brand can afford for customers come across its product offering and dismiss it with a shrug, because of a prior poor service experience.
Invest in customer service, develop a vision for it and make it culture for your organization
Kelechi Okeke is a Customer Experience Analyst in a leading financial institution in sub-Saharan African. He helps businesses develop strategies that improve customer loyalty and enhance profitability. He is also a customer service trainer, content developer and graphic designer
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