Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How to Create a Better Customer (and Employee) Experience

I love this article. I have often said that I would never ask an employee to do anything I wouldn't do, and that came to mind at midnight a couple of Sundays ago when I was at load-out waiting for trucks and picking up trash from a huge airplane hangar, folding chairs to make the rental pick-up go faster, etc. I wanted to share Shep Hyken's words of wisdom with you. He is quite the master of customer and employee relationships. -Andrea Michaels

Who is responsible for customer service? Unless you run a one-man operation, you probably have to entrust the job to your employees. How can you ensure that they care enough to deliver a good customer experience in every interaction? That they are in sync with your company's culture, vision, mission and philosophy as a whole?

You need to have employees who "buy in" to your organization - that is, loyal employees who have internalized the company's vision and mission. They believe in the company and want it to succeed, and will do their best to promote the business and help it grow.

This organizational buy-in doesn't happen by accident, but it is worth the effort. Employees who take pride in the company not only deliver good customer service, but they are also a benefit to marketing efforts. If you want customer service delivered by employees who care - and the loyal customers who develop as a result - here are some things to remember.

  • Start at the top. To be successful, customer service cannot simply be delegated to the front-line employees. Leaders have to be role models for the employees to follow, and all employees must provide good service, whether they are interacting with internal or external customers. The customer-focused culture has to permeate the entire organization from top to bottom. Every decision that is made should incorporate the question, "How does this impact the customer?"
  • Define your service. Take some time to thoughtfully consider what you want your customer experience to look like. What kind of special promise will you make to your customers? Do you promise to respond quickly? To be easy to do business with? To keep your promises? Once you define your brand of customer service, distill it into a few words that are easy for employees to remember and strive for.
  • Communicate and train. Share your customer service philosophy (and its short-form motto or mission statement) with your employees and train them in how to deliver it. Part of this could involve mapping out the customer's journey and identifying all the points of interaction he or she has with the company, and then ensuring that good customer service is built into each of these "touch points."
  • Lead by example. The best way for management to lead by example is by following what I call the Employee Golden Rule: Treat your employees the way you want the customer to be treated - maybe even better. When employees feel like their managers care about them and appreciate them, they are more motivated to do well in their responsibilities - including customer service.
There are also tools available today to test the level of employee engagement in your company. Not long ago, I wrote about TINYpulse. I love this company. They offer a simple software program to survey employees and monitor their levels of motivation and morale. Less in-depth but more up-to-date than an annual employee survey, it is a way of "checking the pulse" of your company each week.

Just as important as the employees' responses to the questions is the fact that the frequent opportunity to share their opinions gives them a sense of feeling more fulfilled, appreciated and understood.

When I talked with the owner of the company, David Niu, he shared some of the simple yet powerful questions he suggests that companies might ask:

  • Do you have all the tools you need to be successful in your job?
  • If you were to leave our company, what would your primary reason be?
  • Do you have a suggestion about how we might improve?

Why is this important? As we mentioned earlier, the best way to deliver good customer service is to have employees who believe in the company and what it stands for, who will promote it and do whatever they can to help make it succeed. So, set inspiring customer service goals, communicate them, and show employees how to achieve them. Then use the weekly "pulse check" to make sure everyone is on the same page - that your employees are buying in and not opting out!

 Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE, is a customer service expert, hall-of-fame speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He works with organizations to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus, a customer service training program that helps organizations develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. For more information contact (314) 692-2200 or

This article has been reprinted with Shep Hyken's permission.


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