Customer service is paramount to every business that has customers. There’s a huge difference, though, between saying and doing. How do retail stores with a reputation for great customer service create that sort of company culture?
Good customer service starts at the top of every organization, no matter how big or small the business. Company presidents and vice presidents of international retail chains, as well as store owners of mom-and-pop corner stores, must treat their employees with respect and model the behaviors they want to see their customer service representatives displaying toward customers.
Aside from that, there are a few things you can do to encourage a customer service culture in your store:
1. Hire the right employees
A candidate may seem like she would be a great employee, but if she doesn’t fit the customer service profile you have for your customer service representatives, she’s not right for the company. During interviews with job candidates, take note of the candidates’ personalities in addition to their skills and expertise, and remember that your hiring decisions are not just about hiring the most experienced candidates, but the ones who will fit in well at your store.
2. Make sure new employees understand the company culture
Sometimes creating a new company culture is largely about making sure employees know what’s expected of them and what support they can expect. In new employee training, and again in meetings with your current customer service reps, emphasize exactly what good customer service means at your company. Don’t assume the individual knows what you mean when you say “customer service,” as this term can mean totally different things from one person to the next.
3. Allow for mistakes
Everyone falls down when they first learn to ride a bike, and it’s only through the encouragement of more experienced (and patient!) people that they are able to eventually succeed. Encourage employees to share both positive and negative customer service experiences with you, then talk openly and non-judgmentally about what the employee could’ve done differently and what he or she did well. By making your employees feel comfortable sharing their failings with you without fear, you’ll help them evolve into the best customer service representatives they can be — and the company as a whole will gain a reputation for great service as well.
4. Trust your customer service reps
It’s easier said than done, but if you allow yourself to give up some of your power to your customer service representatives to use their own judgment to make decisions in interactions with customers, you may be surprised what results. Employees who feel their supervisors trust them.
It’s easier said than done, but if you allow yourself to give up some of your power to your customer service representatives to use their own judgment to make decisions in interactions with customers, you may be surprised what results. Employees who feel their supervisors trust them make better decisions for the company and care more about the success of the company as a whole than those who feel they are just a tiny cog in a great big wheel.
5. Focus on resolution, not conflicts
Companies that focus on making customers happy rather than navigating conflict are the ones that keep their customers. They’re also the ones that employ happier customer service representatives. When customer service reps are encouraged to do what it takes to resolve conflicts with customers, even customers who come in angry often leave with smiles on their faces and intentions to return.
6. Be appreciative
As a store owner or supervisor, recognize the genuine efforts your employees put into the customer service experience, and recognize that your customers are making a choice by shopping with you. Be appreciative of all of the people who make your company what it is, and you’ll encourage a company culture of appreciation.