It's been interesting to watch how quickly (or slowly) companies have adapted their operating and service models to meet the emerging needs of customers. Some companies have knocked it out of the park in the pandemic where others have fallen short.
I've been paying extra attention having been in the service industry my whole life. My first job was clerking at my grandparents retail gift shop in middle school. In high school, I was a hostess at a Chinese restaurant and then worked as a receptionist at a hair salon. I'm pretty sure I was born with customer service in my DNA.
Not long after moving to Seattle, my career in customer service continued when I got hired as a part-time barista at Starbucks while I was going to college. In 2015, I landed my dream job and became the Vice President of customer service. It was an honor to lead a function for such a well respected brand.
Fortunately, Starbucks partners (employees) love and take great care of their customers and that made parts of my job easy. But I was determined to have everyone in the corporate office care about customers as much as those in the stores did.
I asked executives to listen to customer calls to our contact center so they could hear the emotion in the customer's voice. I made sure we started sharing customer and barista connection stories at our coffee tastings in addition to talking about the product. When we did store tours, I insisted that we actually talk to customers about their experience instead of just observing their movement through the store. Being head of customer service wasn't just about the strategy but also placing importance on all the little things to bring attention to the fact that EVERY CUSTOMER MATTERS.
And this is true today especially in our pandemic world - every customer matters and every detail of their service experience matters.
Several years ago, I was on the board for the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business and wrote an article in which I shared four strategies for creating a culture of service:
Hire for a service mentality
Train and set expectations for service
Create an environment of service
Look at ways to analyze and improve service
Before you can get to that though, you need to establish a customer service philosophy or vision. This provides a strong anchor for your strategy and helps rally the team. At Starbucks, it was "Make Every Moment Right."
Here are a few others I've had fun working on:
We Deliver a Dose of Awesomeness (health and wellness business)
We Make People Feel F'ing Good (health and wellness business)
We Make It Work (internal customer service mantra for a facilities and maintenance division)
What's your customer service philosophy or vision? Let me know if you need a thought partner. I'd be happy to help.
To happy customers.