Great Customer Service Starts in the HR Department

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Good customer service is like art: We know it when we see it. And we instinctively return to brands that promise — and deliver — frictionless, consistent, and positive experiences. The businesses that do this usually bear the hallmarks of a solid service culture: responsive leadership, accountable call-center representatives, and an overall sense of trustworthiness at every level.

Customer-centricity is so crucial that companies often tout it as a prominent internal value. Yet, despite this commitment, many businesses falter in their efforts to deliver such excellent customer service. Why?

For most companies, the problem isn’t that they’re unable to communicate properly with customers or that they’re using subpar service protocols. The real issue is they haven’t invested in serving all their stakeholders — including employees.

Great Client Service Begins Internally

Why is a comprehensive service culture so crucial for companies? It all goes back to our natural human instinct to share our feelings and experiences. When we’re treated with dignity and respect, we typically treat others with dignity and respect.

In short, we learn how to behave based on the behaviors of our daily influencers. If a supervisor belittles us or refuses to take our concerns seriously, we’re less likely to go the extra mile for a customer. That’s terrible for long-term business success and brand reputation. If, on the other hand, a supervisor treats us well, we’re likely to treat our colleagues and clients well in turn.

To create a true culture of service, companies must start by looking inward. An engaged and satisfied employee is more likely to become a customer-centric team member than an unhappy staffer. This is why a service-oriented culture needs to grow from the top down.

HR has a key role to play here, too. HR is the first line of contact for candidates and employees, setting people’s expectations for working with a company. In addition, HR’s programs and services help develop more robust internal service processes that lead to a more service-focused company culture.

Strengthen the HR and Customer Service Connection

As an HR professional, you can help your company grow a customer-centric mindset that extends from the inside out. Use the following suggestions as springboards:

1. Empower Employees to Be More Solutions-Oriented

Staff members who have the ability and freedom to solve problems tend to embrace that autonomy. They know they can take the initiative without getting in trouble, which allows them to be more creative and productive. This liberty also speeds up workflows because no one has to wait for marching orders to move past stumbling blocks.

Not all workers understand how to create solutions. Work on this with your people by offering relevant training opportunities. Be sure to measure key performance indicators of each training module. These metrics help identify which processes make the most substantial impact on fostering employee autonomy.

2. Encourage Employees to Act as Brand Ambassadors

The use of influencers and brand ambassadors is a common marketing practice. However, marketers often forget that 50 percent of employees talk about their workplaces on social media. Basically, they’re built-in brand ambassadors for your business.

Work with your marketing team on ways to ethically and compliantly encourage employees to talk about your organization on their social channels. Employees who love their work don’t mind raving about initiatives, sales, and processes online. Other people will read their posts and watch their videos, which can boost lead generation for both sales and recruitment.

3. Embrace DEI Efforts

Corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs are no longer fringe assets. They’re mainstream necessities that ensure every employee’s passions can be expressed in your organization regardless of affiliations, lifestyles, or traits. The more emphasis you put on your DEI efforts, the more you’ll rev up overall employee effectiveness.

From an internal service perspective, employees who work for companies committed to DEI collaborate 57 percent more effectively. That shouldn’t be a surprise: Employees in this environment are not worried that their ideas will be shot down, nor are they stressed over strained workplace relationships. As an added bonus, they’ll treat everyone better — from clients to vendors.

4. Consistently Manage Your Service Culture

Over time, your company’s needs will change. Be ready to realign your internal service measures to adapt to shifting corporate culture, mission, or values.

By staying on top of this task, you’ll ensure the perpetuation of a positive, customer-centric culture regardless of the changes your company may undergo. You might even be able to save money by maintaining an engaging, rewarding environment that promotes employee loyalty. How much money? In the US tech industry alone, turnover related to company culture carries an annual price tag of $16 billion.

That’s a heavy — and expensive — burden to carry. Plus, the more people who leave, the harder it will be to keep morale high. Even team members who stick around aren’t necessarily going to exude confidence and positivity if their colleagues are filing out in droves. Focus on meeting your employees’ needs to avoid losing current stars and future leaders.

Remember: Your customers aren’t just the people who buy your goods and services. They’re also the employees who work hard to help you achieve your corporate objectives. Serve them well, and they’ll serve up amazing experiences on behalf of your brand.

Susan Baxter  is the senior vice president of HR at Integrity Staffing Solutions.

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By Susan Baxter