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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

15 strategies to enhance a company’s customer service

Strive to offer your customers (and employees) the best, even with a lean workforce.

When department leaders focus on building better relationships and providing the best resources to support their front-line employees, they may help reduce stress levels, boost morale, and improve a higher-performance level on the job.

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Whether your company is thriving through a peak season or facing uncertain challenges, Fast Company Executive Board members have 15 tips to encourage team members to provide quality customer service, even if you’re short on staff.

1.  CREATE A ‘CUSTOMER-FIRST’ CULTURE.

Quality customer service starts with a “plus one” mentality. Creating a “customer-first” culture where employees go above and beyond for customers, fellow employees, vendors, and others is what builds resilience in your team. And, that translates to satisfied customers even when resources are tight. The guiding light of “creating raving fans” must be instilled at every level of your company. – Guy Yehiav, SmartSense by Digi

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2. ORGANIZE AND PRIORITIZE CUSTOMER REQUESTS.

First, identify your top 10 service categories, then tag and assign each customer request to the appropriate category. This will help your team prioritize and identify which issues are easily addressed with solutions from your FAQs and focus on the more complex issues that require special attention and additional time. This will greatly reduce customer calls and ensure a higher quality of support. – Sameer Penakalapati, CEIPAL corp.

3. ENGAGE CUSTOMERS THROUGH THEIR INPUT.

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Teach employees to make customers feel seen and smart. The most important business relationships start with getting to know the person you’re supporting. Do this by genuinely asking customers for input and ideas, and then thanking them for sharing. The goodwill you’ll earn will ease stress, not add to it. – Misty Dykema, Simantel

4. LEARN HOW TO RESPECT PEOPLE.

The age-old phrase, “treat people as you want to be treated,” does the trick when dealing with newer customer service reps. If a customer is saying they never received a package, or it didn’t work as intended, assume they are telling the truth. Do not immediately assume they are lying or trying to cheat the company. Walk through the process and be kind to the customer. Make a note of it for the future. – Tyler Angelos, Angelus Brand

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5. REMIND CUSTOMERS ABOUT THEIR VALUE.

Help them see their own centrality to your company’s mission and success. A deep sense of purpose, combined with an understanding of the impact they have, can be incredibly motivating. Sometimes, while dealing with the details, it becomes hard to remember how important one’s work is. But managers can help be that reminder. – Esther Kestenbaum Prozan, Flowspace, Inc.

6. LIGHTEN UP AND WORK AS A TEAM.

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It’s important to have fun in the process, so strive to be a positive role model. Stress and negativity are contagious; therefore, as a manager, make sure that you are not the one spreading it. If you hired an employee, you must have seen something in them that you connected with. If they stayed in the job, then they must be getting more out of it than a paycheck. You are in it together. – Ray Titus, United Franchise Group

7. BE A GOOD COACH.

Every employee has the goal and intention to deliver top-level customer experiences and services. The challenge is the lack of training, coaching, upskilling, and support systems that the employees receive from their managers. Positive praise and coaching are critical to keeping employees engaged and performing at high levels. – Zack Hamilton, Stingray Group, Inc.

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8. SEEK EMPATHETIC NEW HIRES.

Hire people who innately care. Some people are motivated by making others happy, by solving their problems. Hire curious and caring people to work in your support division. – Ryan Anderson, Filevine

9. OFFER EMPLOYEE MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES.

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Everyone has a bad day and sometimes the customer-facing employees deal with this the most. Supporting the mental health of frontline employees with a portfolio of resources is a way to support your staff while at the same time providing the tools for them to help others. As an employer, you could provide tools and resources like Headspace, and mindfulness platforms, because having time to share thoughts or concerns is important. – Leigh Burgess, Bold Industries Group, Inc.

10. STRENGTHEN YOUR TEAM RELATIONSHIPS.

You know what they say, you can’t expect your customers to love your brand and your company if your team does not love it. Be the example. Treat your team as you would want them to treat your customers. It sounds simple but it’s actually easier said than done. The importance of maintaining a healthy company culture and excellent relationships within the team really cannot be overstated. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

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11. EMPHASIZE THE MEANING OF QUALITY SERVICE DURING CHALLENGES.

Managers should emphasize the highest quality customer service when times are challenging because it is during these moments that your relationships are strengthened. When your employees respond by listening, empathizing, and being responsive, they will create a memorable experience. – Tony Martignetti, Inspired Purpose Coaching

12. FOCUS ON COMMON CUSTOMER GOALS AND OUTCOMES.

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When we are under stress and pressure, we tend to move faster which can come at the cost of quality and relationships. Leaders need to remind team members of their purpose, that their colleagues need to be treated well, and that we are all seeking the best outcomes for our customers. The only way to achieve the best for both is through teamwork and supporting one another, including providing grace. – Karl Giuseffi, Talent Plus Inc

13. PROVIDE TEAM TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT.

Managers should create a culture of service where employees are empowered and encouraged to provide the best customer service possible. One tip is to provide employees with specific training on how to improve their customer service skills. The training can be in-person or online and can be customized depending on the needs of the company. – Kristin Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

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14. REWARD YOUR SERVICE STAFF.

Teach your team why customer service is important to the growth of your organization and how that growth will impact them. Provide examples of past customer interactions that led to wins for your business. You can also create an incentive program to reward employees when they go above and beyond. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

15. LET POSITIVITY REIGN IN THE WORKPLACE.

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When positivity reigns, regardless of the circumstance, employees are more likely to provide customer service that reflects that positivity. Stress and pressure are real, but when leadership can exude a culture of positivity, it will be reflected in the level of service rendered by employees. Positivity can result in a positive feedback loop, which only serves the company further. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

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