Customer service: empower staff, put customers first

Last in the National Customer Service Week series: the importance of people power when serving customers.

Empower staff when dealing with customer service.

We’ve all heard the old adage: happy staff = happy customers.  But we think it’s more than that.  We think that it’s empowering your staff to solve customer issues that makes the big difference.

Yesterday we looked at what customers want from a customer service adviser.  One of them was taking ownership for ensuring an issue is rectified.  And how do you take ownership?  Well you allow your staff the power to solve a problem or surprise and delight customers.

While any business sets out to provide good products and services, the larger a business gets, the more difficult it is to provide good customer service across the board.  For those businesses that get it right, the secret is empowering and engaging staff to be good ambassadors for the brand.

In the first blog of this series on Customer Service, we read an example of store staff taking ownership and solving the skirt issue, resulting in a delighted customer who is now a positive brand advocate.

There is such a thing as a free lunch

A number of brands famously allow their staff the ability to surprise and delight customers.  It has been widely reported that staff in Pret a Manger are encouraged (not just permitted, but encouraged) to give away free coffees or food each week.  Apparently, the policy is a cheaper and simpler alternative to a loyalty-card scheme.  And it’s not an urban myth: a couple of people in our office regularly benefit from free Pret lunches.

It is a great idea to empower staff to make the customer experience a pleasant one.  It has become more and more common for companies to include campaigns to provide ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ to customers as part of their marketing budget.

Find a fix

As well as surprising and delighting customers, empowering staff to resolve issues has a huge impact on customer satisfaction., for example, recognises that all staff have a part to play in their culture and vision of the business.  If something does go wrong, they empower their staff to make it right for customers up to a certain budget.

Timpson have a well known ethos to provide great customer service:

We operate an ‘Upside Down’ management style.

We believe the best way to give great customer service is to give freedom to the colleagues that serve customers.

They have put guidelines in place and trust their people to do what they can to make sure the customer is happy.

People power

So in short, great customer service is not something a company provides: it is giving power to the people who provide customer service.

As long as your culture and people are aligned to put customers first, your brand should thrive!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our series of blogs for National Customer Service Week.  Catch up on what you’ve missed by checking out our blog page.

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