No one is so high up in the organization that they are above waiting on customers — Jack Mitchell, “Hug Your Customers”
There’s a great deal of talk today about the importance of customer service as a key competitive differentiator. More and more businesses are coming to the point of view that customer service is not a department within an organization, but rather an attitude, a philosophy and the mission of the entire company. It is widely stated that these days customer service is everyone’s job and responsibility. It is meant to go well beyond the frontline call center or a reception desk.
Although the “everyone does customer service” approach is widely accepted and fruitfully adopted by leading companies worldwide as a key part of their business strategy, one can’t help but wonder what it takes to get everyone involved in customer service. For startups and small businesses, keeping everyone on the same page and getting all employees to wear all kinds of new hats is quite a common practice. But it gets a bit complicated in case of a larger and long-standing organization. How do you go about turning the tide and implementing the new standards?
The purpose of this blog post is to provide you with some insight and inspiration, as well as a few helpful tips and strategies to let your company get closer to the “everyone does customer service” mindset and maintain the right attitude while going through the process.
How Hard Can It Be?
The truth about people is that they can be divided into those who don’t mind stepping in on-and-off and those who consider working in customer service way too stressful, demeaning or even insulting for both employees and customers. To some extent, it makes sense that drawing employees from their normal duties to answer support tickets and phone calls might do more harm than good, especially if they have not been properly trained for that.
In fact, getting everyone involved into customer service does not mean throwing your totally inexperienced non-support people in the trenches to fight a losing battle with aliens. Rather, it’s all about making sure that everyone in the company does not perceive customers as aliens and knows how to correctly handle customers’ requests in a prompt and friendly manner.
It certainly takes considerable time for people to change and incorporate the new standards. It also requires a focused effort and additional resources to find out what works for your business and your team. Learn from those who have successfully implemented the principle and adopt the best practices that suit your business model the best. It’s a good idea to start with establishing customer service training programs for new and tenured employees, then play around with rotating shifts, getting random calls and emails answered by non-support staff, giving employees a tour of duty during the holiday rush, and certainly setting the standards by personal example.
What are the rewards and benefits?
1. Getting in Direct Touch with Customers
Making every team member an active participant in serving the customer is the perfect way to provide your employees with a clear view of who your customers are, what are their biggest pain points, core needs and prior expectations toward the product, what brings them back and what may drive them away. Not only it lets the employees get real customer feedback and earn field experience credits, but it also reinforces the whole company’s focus on customer needs.
2. Better Knowledge of Product
There is a strong possibility that most employees don’t deal with all the product features as closely as customers do, and they don’t know that much about how the product works. Handling customers’ requests on a regular basis is the fastest path to understanding the ins and outs of the product, and learning most essential tips and tricks needed to support it.
3. Clearer Understanding of the Big Picture
Tapping into the product features and looking at it through customer’s lens provides invaluable context for further business development. It creates more ideas for innovation and lets employees gain a big picture perspective that enables them to promote, sell and manage the product more successfully.
4. Closer Collaboration
Getting everyone involved in doing customer service makes it easier for people from different teams to engage with each other. It promotes a spirit of mutual collaboration when members of various departments contribute to the collective effort, complementing one another and sharing knowledge and ideas they probably would have never discussed otherwise. In addition, everyone gets an opportunity to develop new skills and learn more about other teams and their work.
5. Stronger Company Image
I sincerely hope that gone are the days when a customer request could be answered with “That’s not my job” or “That’s out of my scope”. These days, customers expect to receive supportive and responsive service at any time and at any touch point, be it a janitor, support agent or manager. If a customer is asking for something, you have no other choice but to do your best to help them. Remember, every customer interaction counts as it can influence your business image and reputation. That’s why anyone within an organization should be properly trained to demonstrate your company’s commitment to customer service.
Over to You
Have you ever stepped into a customer service job at your company? Do you agree that everyone should do customer service for at least a period of time these days? Are there any other ways to learn from customer service and contribute to customer happiness? Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear what you think.
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Completely agree with the fact that customer service no longer is limited to a department within an organization. It is essential that companies adopt excellent customer service as an attitude, a philosophy and mission. Everyone should actively work for delivering a positive experience to customers. While there are multiple technologies that can help companies to do so, my vote goes to the new-age CRM platforms available. If you check Zoho, Salesforce or ConvergeHub, you will be delighted how these software solutions foster the entire company to work together in one platform and deliver a seamless and consistent experience to customers throughout the journey, right from marketing to sales and service.
Thank you for sharing the info, Alice. I am glad you liked the article!
I think you are covering two important issues here.
1) Should everyone in the company spend time on the front lines serving customers directly? Here, I think it depends. There are many cases when someone lacks the skills, training, or experience to do a good job. There’s no reason for the customer to suffer just so someone can “try their hand” at a few contacts!
2) Everyone should develop customer empathy and understanding. I really agree with this and it’s a best practice in leading companies. The key is there are many ways to do this. Examples:
* Support ride-alongs, where you work alongside a trained service representative.
* Contact monitoring, where you listen to customer calls to hear what they actually say.
* Customer conversations, where you talk to customers to learn more about them.
Thank you for your brilliant comment, Jeff. I agree that commitment to excellent customer service can be achieved not necessarily through getting everyone involved into the front-line support. The examples you provided as alternative solutions are really great, I really appreciate your sharing them
Its depend upon the person how ell he can handle the customer because its not a easy task that every one can tackle a customer and explain the customer about the service or product and agree them , nut one thing can help them if one can get a proper training how to tackle a customer and also the whole knowledge about the service or a product .
Thank you for reading the article and sharing your thoughts, Frazer. I do believe that all the employees should receive basic customer service training and clearly understand how to deal with customers’ requests even if they weren’t hired to perform this kind of job. Some people think they are not suited for customer service, but I believe that’s a skill that can be developed through proper training
I believe that everyone should understand the importance of delivering good customer service. I agree having untrained personnel handle customer calls can be counterproductive. However, I believe everyone should be focused on supporting customer service activities.
Absolutely, Sandra. Thank you for your comment
I think everyone in the company should know how to address the needs of a customer, or at least know as to whom they should help point the customer to the right person who might be able to fully answer their needs. But I guess, in every company, it would be better if there’s a team of people who are focused on customer support.
I agree with you Sammy. Thank you for reading the article, and for sharing your thoughts
More and more businesses are coming to the point of view that customer service is not a department within an organization, but rather an attitude, philosophy and mission of an entire company
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