Great Customer Service Starts with Great Leadership

Every organization has one important thing in common; they exist to provide a product or service to customers. No matter what that product or service may be, customer satisfaction is essential to any team’s success. In fact, most company mission statements and policies are crafted around serving customers. However, it is also common for leaders to lose sight of their role in creating a great customer experience. Some leaders mistakenly brush it off as a simple lower-level employee concern wholly dependent on the performance of the frontline, customer-facing employees. 

Customer Service is About Culture 

Great customer service starts at the top. Leaders must set their teams up for success by providing them the environment, tools, and knowledge they need to provide excellent service to clientele. Crestcom subject matter expert, author, and customer service guru Shep Hyken explains that “Starting at the top means that leadership and management must set the tone.  Then, they must practice what they preach.  They must treat employees like they want the customer treated – even better, just to accentuate the point…This is where the customer-focused culture begins.  It starts with people who want to do the right thing.  From that point, we can layer on customer service training (and other types of training) that focuses on creating an amazing place to work.” Leaders that create a supportive work environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect will encourage employees to do the same for customers. 

Here are some great ways leaders can create a customer-focused culture every day: 

  • Put it in writing. Create a short, simple customer service vision statement that clearly defines the type of customer service employees are expected to provide. This is usually something that can be memorized and repeated easily and is usually not the same as the organization’s formal mission statement. For example, the Ritz Carlton’s vision statement is “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” L.L.Bean’s vision is to “Sell good merchandise at a reasonable profit, treat your customers like human beings, and they will always come back for more.”
  • Lead by Example. From the C-suite to the frontline, everyone should be expected to treat others with respect. For example, if frontline employees are expected to greet customers and co-workers with eye contact and a smile, leaders should do the same. Managers that roll up their sleeves to help when the frontline staff gets busy demonstrate that they care about their team’s success and the importance of doing what it takes to serve the customer. Happy employees result in satisfied customers. In fact, a Gallup report on The State of the American Workplace found that “employees who are engaged are more likely to improve customer relationships, with a resulting 20% increase in sales.” 
  • Empower Your People. If you have hired the right people, provided them with the training and development they need, and given them the right tools for the job, then you should feel comfortable getting out of their way. Give your customer-facing employees the ability to use their best judgment to help customers and solve issues for them. In his book, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek explains that “when a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader’s vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way.”