As business owners or managers, the behaviors and attitudes you project act as an example to your employees and how they should treat your customers. Employees are the internal customers that business owners serve each day, and these relationships set the culture for your entire company.
Before you even begin to think about the service your employees provide to external customers, it's important to look in the mirror and evaluate how your actions influence your employees.
To provide excellent customer service, employees should feel respected, empowered, and equipped to serve your customers. Engaged employees feel a sense of ownership in their work and in the outcome of the interactions they have with customers. Those who do not feel engaged are more like renters than owners, just fulfilling their requirements and doing enough to get by but likely not ever aiming to wow customers.
According to a recent Gallup study, nearly 70 percent of employees feel disengaged at their jobs. What's inspiring those employees to provide great service?
When service is lacking, we often jump to offering incentives or additional training to make improvements, but we can create positive change through much simpler (and more cost-effective) means.
The following ideas are just a few ways business owners or leaders can use to set an example for employees.
- Start each day with a warm greeting. It might seem obvious, but saying "Good morning" to employees can get the day off to a positive start for all. Seeing your boss walk in with his head down and a scowl on his face can have more of an impact on morale than you might realize. Even though you might have fought through traffic or spilled your coffee before getting to the office, start fresh when you walk in.
- Show up and be present every day. It's easy to blame poor service on those directly interacting with customers, but they get their cues on how to treat others at work from their leaders.
- Listen respectfully and address problems promptly. Showing that you care and are empathetic to their concerns can motivate employees to treat your customers the same way. But dismissing your employees' comments and ideas will likely leave them doing just the bare minimum to collect a paycheck.
- Give feedback. A common complaint from employees is that they have no clue how they're doing at their jobs. Bosses are often quick to point out the bad when it comes up, but it's just as important to reinforce what employees are doing well and to communicate regularly with each individual.
- \Focus on morale. One negative or under-performing employee can turn your entire team from owners to renters. Encourage communication between team members to make sure everyone feels capable and inspired to work together and do their job.
Good customer service starts at the top. Empower your employees to go above and beyond by going above and beyond to meet their needs. You'll likely find yourself with a team of owners!
Randi Busse is founder and president of Workforce Development Group, a coaching and training organization that specializes in improving the customer experience, increasing customer retention, and maximizing revenue. Prior to founding the company in 2008, she worked for almost 10 years as a sales coach at Verizon. She is also the author of Turning Rants Into Raves: Turn Your Customers On Before They Turn On YOU!