Shep Hyken, in our workshop "Captivate Your Customer", presents 7 strategies to generate a captivating customer service culture within your organization.
It isn't necessary to use every strategy. When you introduce one or two of these strategies that you aren't already using, you'll boost your customer service to an even higher level.
Organizations turn people into evangelists by investing them with special status. Creating members creates a special relationship with your customers. They feel that they are strongly valued, and by doing business with you they receive special benefits not provided elsewhere.
One way is to give customers a special membership track to join so they can get even more value from your organization.
REI, the outdoor equipment store, has two types of customers. Regular customers simply come in and buy, or you can buy into membership. With Membership you get extra discounts, and at the end of the year you even get a dividend check that you can use towards future purchases at REI.
Create an environment where employees look forward to coming to work every day. F.U.N. stands for Fulfilment, Uniqueness, and Next – the anticipation of the next challenge, of what’s happening next with the company.
Once you engage your team with F.U.N. by giving them work that is fulfilling, that they’re passionate about, that utilizes their unique talents and that is challenging and exciting, they will commit to your customer service vision.
Build and support a culture that supports flexibility in the workplace. Examples are scheduling, working from home, or even the décor in an employee’s workspace.
Slalom Consulting allows some of its employees to create their own hours based on when they want to work, as long as they do their job. The only time is when they actually have to be in the office is when they need to attend in-person meetings. The culture is all about flexibility.
Create partnerships with your customers. Partnerships are when your customers think of you as their business partner, someone they can depend on to assist in things that may be beyond their specified business, as opposed to just another company they do business with. This creates confidence that you deliver consistent service: your service is so good that companies make you their partner because they can count on you. Partnership creates repeat customers and brand loyalty.
Make the customer’s problem your problem. When you spot a customer who’s in a crisis, or about to be in a crisis, take initiative to resolve the crisis, or alert the customer to the crisis, before the customer comes to you. Look for opportunities to give a little more than the customer expects.
Contegix, the cloud computing service, had a client who unknowingly had a problem. The client had scheduled a release of concert ticket sales for a Friday at 6pm. Someone at Contegix recognized that the servers weren’t going to be able to handle the influx of customers, and, finding that everyone at their client had left for the weekend, added more server power on its own initiative. The client heard about what had occurred the next Monday morning, and from then on recognized Contegix as not just a vendor but its trusted partner.
Hire for attitude, train the skill. Hire true believers in your product and organization. You want people that best represent your organization, customer service vision, and aid in its success.
In the recruiting, hiring and retention process, seek believers in your product philosophy, mission and values. Look for the ones with the right attitudes and passion that aligns with your organizational mission. They are excited about helping you grow your vision. Don’t be afraid to use an unconventional hiring process such as an audition to identify the best personality fit for the job.
Fudgery is a mall retailer that makes fudge in front of its customers. Its employees don’t just make fudge, they put on a show whilst doing so. So to become an employee at Fudgery, you don’t just fill out an application, you also get to sing at an audition. They don’t care whether you can hold a note; they care whether you’re outgoing enough to actually sing in front of an audience. If you are, they can teach you how to make the fudge.
Create an after-experience by following through in a way that is unexpected, appreciated, and memorable. Your customer will remember why they do business with you and return to do business with you again.
Offer your customer a gift. The gift doesn’t need to be extravagant or expensive; it just needs to be right for the occasion, for your business, and for your customer.
Shep tells the story of his experience at Ranoush restaurant in St. Louis MO. His family eats there regularly. On his birthday the restaurant brought him a cake. As he was leaving, the owner gave him a bottle of wine to take home. The owner said: “one evening you will enjoy this wine, and then you’ll remember the experience you had at Ranoush.”
Support and derive on-going value from your community of loyal customers. This creates a community of evangelists: people who are committed and connected to your brand. Positive or negative online reviews will reflect your success.
Bring your customers into your business early on in the R&D process. Create and support forums both online and in real life that create added value and a sense of belonging.
Apple has created user groups, and these user groups actually engage with an Apple customer who has a problem and help them. In other words these user groups are communities who are supporting Apple. They are evangelists. They love their Apple products and they are willing to offer up customer support just because they are passionate about Apple.
Act in support of your organization’s best values all of the time, no matter what, and wherever you are in the pecking order. Cascade your values by ensuring senior leadership models your customer service vision. Being transparent and leading by example inspires and motivates others to follow, both internal and external customers.
If you expect your employees to go the extra mile for your customers, you must prove that you’re willing to go the extra mile for them. Identify core committable values that you will hire and fire for, that support your organization’s service vision. Senior management shouldn’t expect employees to do anything that they haven’t done and are ready to do again if necessary.
Walt Disney championed the concept of “stooping to excellence”. When he walked into a theme park he knew he was being watched. When he saw a piece of trash on the ground he would stoop down, pick it up and throw it away. He knew that if he walked by that piece of trash he was giving permission to all of his employees to walk by that piece of trash.