How to Avoid Poor Customer Service From Taking Flight in Your Company
If you felt shock and disbelief as you heard the news or saw the video about the gentleman who was dragged off an airline flight last week, you’re not alone. For a number of reasons, the situation wasn’t handled well. No surprise, among my colleagues and even my friends, the story quickly became a hot discussion topic. But interestingly, each time, the talk has evolved into us swapping our own stories of customer-service nightmares. We even managed to find humor behind our tales of woe that covered companies from different industries large and small. In fact, sometimes getting consistently miserable customer-service experiences is just the price we pay for doing business with certain companies or brands. This sad reality is a poor reflection on leadership of these companies and how customer loyalty drives the bottom line. In light of that, how does your organization stack up when it comes to providing excellent experiences for the customer—whether those are related to products, services or both? If you don’t know do your homework and find out. If it’s an aspect of your business that needs work, make this customer focus a priority and you’ll be less apt to become “the talk” of your market, your industry–or, worse, the world when something bad happens.
Here are three ways you can better ensure your organization ranks high in the eyes of your customers:
1. Recognize That Excellent Customer Service Starts With Leadership
If you want the people on the frontline of your business delivering great experiences for your customers, then make sure your employees know it’s important—and why. Be clear in your leadership and organization meetings that, although customers may not be physically present in your business-management and development planning, your customers matter and have a “seat at the table.” Then take the lead, working with others in your organization to create a philosophy and guidelines for customer service. Share these with all team members, checking in regularly with your direct reports and on the frontlines. Find out what’s working and what’s not. If corrective action is needed, take it!
2. Make Sure Your Goals Are Aligned
It’s quite possible that a misalignment between goals and the strategies supporting those objectives played a role in the recent airline mishap. However, while the verdict is still out on that, just know that it’s very common for departments within the same organization to have goals that unintentionally oppose each other. When this happens, customer service often gets sacrificed. To avoid this, you, the leader, first need to ensure all goals and strategies truly support your company’s customers. Then get your people onboard with an accountability system that will create the necessary alignment around your vital customer-service goals and controls, drive and uphold performance expectations, and get the results you want.
3. Support Your People With Ongoing Training And Development
When it comes to providing excellent customer service, employees need the tools and skills to deliver it. This means you’ve got to give them adequate customer-service training, performance feedback, and the professional development and resources that will empower them to succeed. Do this and you’ll find that when your people are faced with tough customer-service scenarios, they’ll be more effective and apt to handle tricky situations with grace, tact and ease. Don’t just see this as a solid business strategy. Think bigger. When companies consistently do this well they don’t just please their customers. Over time, they become outstanding brands and build loyal fans for life.
What’s one strategy your business has taken to build greater accountability around providing stellar customer service?