What do these companies have in common, Southwest Airlines, Neiman Marcus, Marriot, Disney, and Enterprise Car Rental? They are all customer service pioneers. Each company has forged a new path through their commitment, dedication, and innovations, to become known as leaders in delivering excellent customer service. Serving the customer is more than some fancy words on their company mission statements. Customer service truly represents the very essence of each company’s’ existence.
These companies, along with hundreds more, have already done the hard work; they have laid the ground work, set the examples, and blazed the trails for other companies to follow. They have demonstrated how to achieve success by serving the customer.
Why then, don’t all companies follow this proven path to success?
Do they not know the core principles these companies follow?
To borrow a concept from the Late Show with David Letterman, this is a top ten list of principles all companies need to implement to achieve service excellence.
Number 10: Focus – The customer should always be the number one focus of any company. All decisions, services, and products should be based upon satisfying the needs and expectations of the customers.
Number 9: Take Action – The best laid plans will never come to life, without action. If you are going to talk-the-talk, then you must walk-the-walk. When companies, which brag about the importance of customer service, fail to deliver outstanding service, customers and employees lose faith and trust in them.
Number 8: Create Happy Employees – Your employees’ beliefs, attitudes and behaviors determine the quality of the customer service provided. The quality of customer service will never exceed the quality of the people who provide it. Happy employees create happy customers.
Number 7: Develop Employees – The three key words in employee development are training, training, and training. Teach your employees how to serve the customer, equip them to serve, and then empower them to serve with excellence.
Number 6: Establish Relationships – Customer loyalty is achieved by having a relationship with your customers. The stronger the relationship, the more loyal your customer becomes. Relationships are built upon trust, communication, and interaction. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to further enhance communication and improve trust.
Number 5: Measure Performance – If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Measuring customer satisfaction, customer feedback, and employee adherence to customer service standards is paramount in delivering exceptional customer service with any degree of consistency. Always inspect what you expect.
Number 4: Build Team Unity – To achieve optimal success everyone must be on the same page, striving for the same goal, aspiring to the same vision, and functioning as a team. Teamwork will always produce greater results, then individuals working alone.
Number 3: Formulate a Plan – Is the care your customers receive by design or by default? Without a crystal clear, well defined, universal set of customer service standards you will leave customer satisfaction up to chance. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Number 2: Commit to Excellence – Customer service is the number one differentiator in today’s competitive marketplace. Having a good product or a low price does not guarantee a competitive advantage or customer loyalty anymore. Commit to installing and fostering a customer-first culture within your company. Serving with excellence is a choice.
And the Number 1 principle all companies need to implement to achieve service excellence is:
Belief – Believe in the power of customer service. Believe in necessity of customer retention. Believe in the relationship between customer loyalty and the growth of your business. Believe that becoming customer-focused not only makes good business sense but it guarantees increased revenue and profit. It has been said,” A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses, it is an idea that possesses the mind.”
I challenge every company to not only implement these principles, but to have the faith, courage, and vision to move beyond providing excellent customer service to building a reputation as a customer service pioneer.
Some companies make things happen
Some companies watch what happens
Some companies wonder what happened