Customer Service at the Highest Level
When someone asks you to think of a company in your town known for excellent customer service, most people have a hard time thinking of more than one. Sometimes none. Are you one of them? Can you be?
The process of becoming world class in customer service is a difficult journey and requires much more than an occasional meeting, poster on the wall or slogan. It is a process, not an event. It requires commitment from the CEO that is practiced with every move and decision.
Some organizations rise to temporary success in this area, but soon fall back to mediocrity. Still, most businesses today have a goal of delivering excellent service to their customers and yet their customers could not put them in high esteem.
Very few teams understand that reaching a high level of service requires a change in culture and successful implementation of many processes while creating an outstanding customer experience.
Why is culture necessary in a top service company? We are in an age of technology and commodities along with more competition than ever. Search and reviews have made it so easy to find automotive service and distinguishing yourself from the competition involves every associate providing unparalleled customer service. A huge part of the building blocks of superior customer service is the trust factor. Is your customer at ease? Do they feel safe when doing business with you? Do they feel that they have a relationship? Is their experience with your company like no other automotive service experience they have ever had? Keep in mind that bad customer service experiences will hurt you and your brand. You heard the saying that customers love to tell friends and family about their bad experiences. On average an unhappy customer will tell at least nine people about their bad experience and the secondhand conversations can also be damaging to your reputation. You cannot afford even one bad review.
The process of creating, managing and maintaining a culture of service is hard work. It starts with the buy-in of your entire team. Be sure they are involved in the creation of your ‘creed’ and the processes it will take in making it the foundation of your business. Do this and your team will notice the change in your customer. You will hear ‘how great it is to do business with your company’ and new customers will find you because they will seek out what you offer through word of mouth and five-star reviews. Customers will value how they are treated and the positive experiences you have created for them and they will hopefully reward you with their business.
So now, let’s talk culture for a minute. Culture is the combination of behaviors, actions and attitudes that define an organization. Having an overarching culture is the foundation to creating a five-star customer experience. What behaviors can you look at and use that define your culture? Do you or your associates spring into action when a customer walks in your door or when they call? What attitudes characterize the way you think about servicing your customers? Do you show respect to your customers? Are you helping each other improve?
The greatest service companies (and you will be one of them) are known for consistently delivering excellent service. They have invested a lot of time and resources to ensure each associate does not have to be reminded of the standard of service they provide every day. It becomes second nature! They know what to do every day in different circumstances and do it without their supervisors watching. They make strong customer centered decisions that exceed expectations. But it only happens if the culture of the company has exceptional customer service as one of its foundations.
As a side thought regarding your culture, here is another very powerful adage: Take care of your people and they will take care of your customers or “If you make a big deal out of little things, then the little things won’t become a big deal” David Dennis. Leaders must have passion for details, but our associates at every level in our organization must see the value in doing even the smallest task with excellence. Great organizations are built on the shoulders of associates who do their assigned tasks with precision and passion. Each person can positively or negatively impact a customers experience by the way he or she smiles, greets, speaks, looks and listens.
Plan on 2019 being “the year of the customer”. Set a goal of 50 five-star reviews in the next six months. You may already be there, but keep putting in the work to keep that level going. If you are not there yet, pull the team together. Talk to you customers. Catch them in your waiting room or call them, ask about their service experience and evaluate every transaction. What could have been done better? Exceptional customers service cannot be transmitted via telepathic waves. You cannot wish it. Stop hoping, or even wishing, that your team delivers exceptional customer service. Define it and set accountability to it one customer experience at a time.