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Dear Workforce How Do We Build a Culture of Customer Service

We are a diversified organization with 11 companies (all in retail merchandising). What are the steps we should take to build a corporate culture oriented around customer service? What are the critical variables to consider in creating an incentive scheme? Can you share some customer service measuring tool?
November 10, 2006
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Related Topics: Motivating Employees, Dear Workforce
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Dear Keeping Everyone Happy:
Building a customer-service-oriented culture can be a huge challenge for an organization of any size or complexity. However, it can be done and done well. Just look at Southwest Airlines, Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Nordstrom and Whole Foods Market as some examples of companies renowned for providing world-class service.
 
There are four steps to building a customer-service-oriented culture:
 
Gain commitment from the top
Creating a companywide service culture begins with senior management. The importance of serving customers must be communicated and reinforced constantly throughout the organization.
 
Most of us at one time or another have heard a CEO proclaim, "We are a customer-focused company." But when you look behind the curtain, you still see long lines, extended wait times, poorly trained staff, inadequate responses and dissatisfied customers.
 
Develop a comprehensive plan
As with any project of this magnitude, you must have a comprehensive plan to succeed. Goals must be set, tasks identified, responsibilities assigned, timelines established and resources allocated.
 
Some companies develop their customer service plans internally using an in-house project manager. Still others hire consultants. Regardless of the option you choose, the planning team should involve employees at all levels.
 
Soliciting employee opinions helps identify and resolve potential issues before they become major roadblocks to cultural change. Many companies conduct employee-satisfaction surveys to benchmark the current culture, and also to establish a baseline for measuring employee satisfaction in the future. Satisfied employees deliver satisfied customers, so measuring customer satisfaction should be an integral part of your plan.
 
Implement the plan
Implementation usually involves a series of meetings between various levels of management and staff. Although the media may vary based on the audience, the message should include the what, when, why and how of building a customer-focused culture. At these meetings, provide examples of good and bad service, communicate performance goals and identify measurement tools.
 
It is critical to frequently reinforce the goals and successes of your program. This can be accomplished with refresher sessions and reports of progress publicized via companywide meetings, newsletters, staff e-mails, other internal news media and external media outlets.
 
Measure success
Many world-class service providers link employee and customer satisfaction scores to staff performance at all levels. The scores affect salaries, bonuses and job security.Building a customer-service-oriented culture is challenging. Taking steps like those outlined above should give you more satisfied employees–and more loyal customers.
 
SOURCE: Roger H. Nunley, managing director, Customer Care Institute, Atlanta, December 30, 2005.
 
LEARN MORE: Another article discusses the role employee training plays in boosting customer service.
 
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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