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Making Customer Service Stick: 5 Tips to Sustain Culture

Sustaining any business initiative is one of the top struggles every organization faces.

It is a constant struggle to breathe life into a strategy in such a way that gives it legs for the long term.  But any Customer service platform that is to succeed has to have the stickiness borne from constant attention, pruning, and rejuvenation.

The biggest challenge when it comes to establishing a customer service culture is ensuring its continued sustainability across time.

Any program that doesn’t have legs long-term will come to be seen as a flavor of the month and not something that folks should rally behind or support.

So you have to ask yourself if your program has a long term strategy – and if your organization is passionately invested in its continued success.  Establishing a Guest-centric culture takes energy, enthusiasm, and a whole lot of sweat equity.

Consider these 5 thoughts to ensure a customer service culture that will stand the test of time:

  1. Does it Truly put the customer at the center of everything you do? This is the one question that you must ask of each piece of your organization “is this good for the Guest?”  If it isn’t, then you should change or improve the process or initiative.  When you are establishing a culture of Customer service and engagement, it is crucial that you ensure everyone is speaking the language of service.  That means considering the Guest and the impact that any changes in policy, execution, or program might have on the overall experience.

  2. Are you consistently rolling out new tools and training to support the program? Nothing tells your team that you are committed to a program more than continuing to provide support and training for that program.  That could be by way of training, job aids, or continued recognition for the Customer service mission.  If you just roll out a Customer engagement platform and then never revisit or expand the program, chances are the team will believe that it was a “one and done” type of operation.  Meaning that if they just wait long enough it will go away or become less important over time.

  3. Is your leadership team constantly reinforcing the values with great behaviors? Teams will embrace what is most important to their leaders.  One thing that can help make great service a part of your culture is for leadership to embrace those principles.  If executives and managers embrace key service moves such as being nice to Guests, engaging with team members, wearing name tags, and picking up trash, then the team will see the value and importance in those key moves.  Leaders who adopt a “do as I say and not as I do” type attitude will find that their teams resist (and perhaps even actively work against) the change effort.  The other complimentary effort is ensure that recognition is high when it comes to Customer service.  Make sure to reward and celebrate those who demonstrate great service to ensure that you reinforce great behaviors.

  4. Is Service infused into each and every new program or product? Much like we discussed in point 1, service has to be baked into the landscape of your business.  You can’t have Customer service notions that stand apart from your general policies and procedures.  Honestly, if you don’t begin with that basic premise, then you may well need to reevaluate the overall landscape of your business.  That said, you have to consider all your key constituents.  Shareholders, your team, and Customers that frequent your business all need to be considered.  So it isn’t to say that financial considerations are off the table – but when you consider things like work force size, productivity, and product selection, you have to balance all those concerned.  You have to be financially prudent to ensure the long term success of your business – after all, you can’t serve if you aren’t economically viable – but just be sure that you are considering what impact any cost reductions or new programs might have on your service.

  5. Does everyone understand why it is important? Teams who understand the “why” behind Customer service are far more likely to provide great experiences.  When you make sure team members understand how important they are to the organization and that treating Guests well will ensure their continued loyalty, you are setting them up to help pull the rope in right direction.  Today’s teams don’t function well in silos and without all the key data to make decisions, so be very open with the communication.  This is particularly important to the Millenial work force, who thrive on understanding the whole picture and how everything fits together.  So be sure you keep communication robust through staff meetings and pre-shift huddles.  A well informed, well trained team can help you deliver great service and drive its continued stickiness over time.

To stay competitive and build loyalty, innovation is key to today’s businesses.  There is also a need to ensure a commitment to Guest service and engagement that has long term impact and resonance.

Keeping programs fresh and steeped in what is best for Customers will ensure it not seen as the flavor of the day.

And that will make it easier to treat Guests as cherished friends – now and well into the future.


Tony Johnson -Customer Experience Leader-

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