That pesky pendulum
We know the story. The economy went south, competition got fierce, and businesses cut back to save money. But now common sense reminds us that there’s saving money and then there’s “saving money.”
Yes, fierce competition means it’s more important than ever to try to squeeze every return out of every investment, retain customers and improve productivity. To accomplish this, businesses require employees with the talent and drive to keep customers happy, because the customer’s happiness is the gating factor to . . . well, to everything.
Human capital is back, baby
You can’t have happy customers without great customer service and support, and without the human capital to supply awesomely responsive support, customers have no incentive to stay, and every reason to move to competitors. Competition shifts back and forth from industry to industry, business cycle to business cycle, decade to decade, but superior human capital can be the keystone that makes it possible to compete, manage change, and move ahead.
Leadership is required
Businesses also need leaders to support the strategy of “service as a differentiator” that is now recognized as a solid business driver. And customer happiness is a business driver–sometimes even a disruptive one. Not just satisfying customers in basic ways, but making them into loyal, happy evangelists, so they’ll continue giving you money. Your product can be great, but if people aren’t going to give you their money, a great product is a Pyrrhic victory.
Businesses need leaders who can establish and maintain a culture–not the hippy dippy Kumbaya sitting around the campfire kind of culture–but a strategic environment supporting the concept of Customer at the Center of the Company.
Only one thing really changes a culture
There’s a lot written about the difficulty of changing corporate culture, but the simple fact is that one thing only is necessary–top-down dedication and determination.
Not that simple?
Yes, it is.
Top management must simply decide that no matter what is required, no matter what shifts must be made away from outdated methods, a company must become obsessed with the customer. That means strengthening collaboration among your siloed teams and setting your whole organization on a course to get involved with customers. That means training and fair compensation for a new kind of customer service agent. That means investing in the best and brightest, and a willingness to pay them what they are worth.
And, as in parenting, doing it consistently, day after day, until everybody is on board. The benefits of this will be felt in higher customer satisfaction, higher worker satisfaction, lower turnover in personnel, greater continuity of customer care, and higher profits.
A cycle of goodness
Long-term success begins with the elevation of your front-line employees to positions of respect, backed up with training and leadership that understands how important they are. Give your employees this training, great tools to enable them to offer efficient and thoughtful service and support to your customers, and watch what the virtuous cycle can do.
- Resolve a Customer’s Problem: The First (or Last) Step in the Customer Care Cycle
- Customer Service Training: Find True Love With Customers [Infographic]
- Customer Care Skills: The Most Important Skill Is Attitude
- Social Media Customer Care Maturity Model [Infographic]
- Social Customer Care: Your Brand and Marketing Differentiator