Coffee Hangout with Micah on Oct 19 at 11:00 AM EST: Building a customer service culture 

  • 15 October 2021
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Our next Coffee Chat session is happening on Tuesday, 19th of October at 11 AM EST.

@Micah Solomon will be our host and the topic of discussion: Building a customer service culture

Please block your calendars for about 45 minutes to answer five questions. To keep this session as engaging as possible, I’ve chosen a topic that all of us can relate to, and here are the
key-segments:

1. What do you think about the concept of hiring for culture fit? 

2. What are some of the key elements of creating a customer service-oriented culture? 
 

3. What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 
 
4. How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

5. Give us examples of your favorite organizations that have built a great CS culture


Before we close out, we’ll open the floor and everyone can questions about all things CX to Micah!  

73 replies

A2:


Q2. What are some of the key elements of creating a customer service-oriented culture?

 

The way I envision (and strive to create) customer service-oriented culture includes support for all stakeholders.  In the graphic below that I’ve created to visualize this, the goal is to fill all four question-mark boxes positively.  

It’s not easy. 

  1. You need to successfully serve both your customers and the people who serve your customers (employees, vendors, subcontractors)
  2. You need to do this successfully both when it’s sunny out and you’re well staffed and when there’s a hurricane on the horizon and you’re down one person. 

 

 

@Micah Solomon Could you share some of the elements to introduce when stress is high, aimed at customers?

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Second question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q2, start your answer with A2 and use the quote the option

Q2. What are some of the key elements of creating a customer service-oriented culture?

A2: When a team comes together and participates in conversations like one unit, that’s the key to great CS culture. To achieve that, team should be constantly be:
- Rewarded for delighting customers
-  Building an attitude to deliver what right for the company AND the customer
- To be more inclusive and welcoming at all times, change mentors once in two weeks so they get a chance to talk to others on the team and 
- Share feedback instantly with the right team members

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Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option

Q3: What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 

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A2 As far as the key elements to create a customer service-focused culture, I would say they include 

• Employee selection

• Training, training, and more training

• Modeling by leadership (they need to “walk the walk”) 

• Ample benefits, staffing, and emotional support for employees

• Clarity of focus (using my matrix and other tools to get this part started) 

• Ultimately, what the goal is (and when you know you’ve achieved success) is when you create Positive Peer Pressure: where it’s clear that “the way things are done around here” is pro-customer. 

 

Giving employees the training they deserve is such a game changer! 

Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option

Q3: What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 

I believe these two are the biggest -

  1. Weak communication channels 
  2. Lack of information and customer insights across teams and employees
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Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option

Q3: What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 

A3: Customer service thrives on certain innate qualities. As teams grow and there is a demand for more hands on the team while you’re pressed for time, it becomes a challenge to test the following.

  1. Ability to communicate and talk to others

  2. Empathy

  3. Should be a natural helper

  4. Be a team player and enthusiastic in nature

  5. Be willing to learn even if initially clueless

If any of these qualities are not met enough, then the team would struggle in my opinion. So, hiring mistakes are something that become difficult to deal with. 

 

 

 

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Hey everyone! Welcome to our coffee chat.

Today we have @Micah Solomon joining us to talk about  Building a customer service culture

Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, keynote speaker, and a senior contributor to Forbes.com. He is termed the “New Guru of Customer Service Excellence” by The Financial Post.Hisi techniques and achievements have been featured everywhere from Fast Company and Seth Godin's worldwide bestseller Purple Cow to Wall Street Journal Radio and Inc. Magazine's "Customer Service Makeover" feature. Micah Solomon  also co-authored Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization which has been recognized as one of the groundbreaking customer service books of recent years. 

We’re super pumped to have Micah join us today to give his expertise. 

First question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q1, start your answer with A1 and use the quote the option

Q1: What do you think about the concept of hiring for culture fit? 

A1: 

We can agree on one thing: Culture matters!

Culture fit on the other hand? Not so much.

We all know how much important it is to hire. But in the day and age of asking people to bring their whole self to work, and working without any biases, it seems to a challenge to accommodate everything. 
 
I’m quoting from a blog that my friend at work penned. 

“Just hire someone on the strength of their skills and monitor for culture strength later. People are curious beings that change every day and the person you interviewed won’t be the person who joins or the person you promote six months from now. Internal and external forces can change people so it’s best to not bank on the impressions you draw from a general conversation. Instead of investing time in looking for a culture fit (your impressions may or may not be accurate), you could just monitor for culture strength and take action if they’re detrimental to other people’s morale”

But if you insist on searching for something aspirational during a short job interview…I suppose you could look for a value fit. 

Source: https://www.freshworks.com/hrms/culture-fit-outdated-blog/ 

Quoting from Lee-Anne Edwards, CEO and founder, OneinaMil.

“The basis of culture-driven recruiting is hiring on aptitude and attitude first”

 

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Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option

Q3: What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 

  • Creating an environment of fear and doubt for employees is a huge pitfall! The last thing we want is employees second guessing themselves/ not putting their best foot forward.
  • Inadequate / Ineffective training programmes could be a huge downside.
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Fourth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option.

 

Q4: How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

4. How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special? 

 

I am curious to hear how others are inspiring teams to offer personalized customer service and making your customer feel like they are valued within your organization. Within my cross functional teams, I think I have found success in creating a personal relationship with the customers I work with but I can’t do that for every one of our customers! 

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A3: Oh, there are so many pitfalls. That’s why one of the key things is to have a bedrock purpose you can refer back to.  For example (and it’s a great example), Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts have a very simple statement about serving guests, employees, and other stakeholders per the Golden Rule.  And the ideal (not always followed, but often!) is that any employee behavior or strategic decision that goes against this isn’t okay. 

If you have a purpose statement/vision that leadership truly buys into, then employees know what to do and know when they’re falling short. (Or at least they know the latter after proper training, which is key as well.) 

 

Another key is employee empowerment.  None of this works if employees lack leeway to serve customers in creative ways as required based on the employees’ best judgment. 

 

“Popular” pitfalls:  

• relaxing your personality-based hiring criteria

• cutting corners on staffing

• eliminating or cutting back on training

• leaders who don’t walk the walk...

 

Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option

Q3: What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 

I

 

 
 
 
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Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option

Q3: What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 

A3. An obvious one that’s “not so obvious” is the assumption that the right things will just happen :)

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A2. 

To create a customer service-oriented culture, we need to act upon it consistently and also be willing to grow and adapt to the times.

Some key elements according to me would be:
1. Understanding and investing in your resources (including human resources)
2. Practicing empathy and transparency
3. Engaging customers proactively
4. Crafting your vision and aligning your team to the vision
5. Leading by example

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Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option

Q3: What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 

A3. An obvious one that’s “not so obvious” is the assumption that the right things will just happen :)

This is so true! Can never just take things for granted

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Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option

Q3: What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 

A3. (part 2) Failing to acknowledge the importance of organizational change management is a common stumbling block too - in a similar vein to my previous point, it’s easy to assume that people-affecting change will just happen if it’s a sensible, logical, and valuable thing to do. I think we all know that this is a flawed assumption :)

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Fourth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option.

 

Q4: How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

A4: Rewards, rewards, and rewards! Recognizing and rewarding customer service teams to make their customers feel special is a must. Because customer delight is when you exceed customer expectations. You’re going out of the way to create a positive experience by placing a priority on customer happiness. And to do so, agents must be incentivized. 

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Fourth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option.

 

Q4: How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

A4. This might be a boring answer but I’ve always believed that we should all treat others in the way that we wish to be treated ourselves. While this might be insufficient in instances where service providers have low personal expectations, it’s a good platform to question how customer service and support is being provided… “How would you feel if someone…?”

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Q4: How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

 

  1. 4 I think offering superior customer service is by really paying attention to your customer, understanding them better and treating each customer as a different individual. This can only happen if we build relationships. E.g.One of the things most customer-service professionals are always taught is to be happy and positive when dealing with a customer but maybe they had a bad-day. So personalizing your experience to them in situations will help feel a customer special. Also remembering small things like their birthdays, etc - little things go a long way!
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Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option

Q3: What are some of the pitfalls you see that we should avoid falling into as we strive to achieve this? 

A3. (part 2) Failing to acknowledge the importance of organizational change management is a common stumbling block too - in a similar vein to my previous point, it’s easy to assume that people-affecting change will just happen if it’s a sensible, logical, and valuable thing to do. I think we all know that this is a flawed assumption :)

Cannot agree with you more on this! 

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Fourth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option.

 

Q4: How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

A4. (part 2) Another side of this is leadership, that in the same way we can say that happy employees make for happy customers, we can help to inspire better customer service (and customers feeling special) by the way in which our service employees are treated. The analytical part of me also wants to bring in the associated metrics, that they need to be suited to what we want or need to achieve here (rather than simply something that another company uses).

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A4: I don’t actually think rewards in the sense of little contests and free pizzas and such are really the most important thing here. What I think matters is rewards in a different sense: a clear feeling that serving customers is valued. 

Having said that, there are specifics that lead to wow customer service.

  1. (and this is essential): Employees must be empowered.  The legendary example here is Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, where every employee WITHOUT CHECKING WITH A MANAGER has the leeway to offer up to $2,000 worth of whatever to either solve a guest’s issue or create a wow experience for them. 
  2. Wow service needs to be modeled and trained for. 
  3. We need to understand the concept of “everyday wow,” not just huge wow gestures.  “everyday wow” is adding value to our interactions with customers and it can be simply an empathetic ear, or a little something that wasn’t expected. 

 

 

 

Q4: How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

 

 

 

 

 

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Fourth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option.

 

Q4: How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

A4. (part 2) Another side of this is leadership, that in the same way we can say that happy employees make for happy customers, we can help to inspire better customer service (and customers feeling special) by the way in which our service employees are treated. The analytical part of me also wants to bring in the associated metrics, that they need to be suited to what we want or need to achieve here (rather than simply something that another company uses).

A4. (part 3) Quickly following up on my analytics point - providing near real-time feedback to service and support staff that allows them to understand how they’re making a positive difference to customers is a great way to further motivate them (in a virtuous circle way).

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A4: I don’t actually think rewards in the sense of little contests and free pizzas and such are really the most important thing here. What I think matters is rewards in a different sense: a clear feeling that serving customers is valued. 

Having said that, there are specifics that lead to wow customer service.

  1. (and this is essential): Employees must be empowered.  The legendary example here is Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, where every employee WITHOUT CHECKING WITH A MANAGER has the leeway to offer up to $2,000 worth of whatever to either solve a guest’s issue or create a wow experience for them. 
  2. Wow service needs to be modeled and trained for. 
  3. We need to understand the concept of “everyday wow,” not just huge wow gestures.  “everyday wow” is adding value to our interactions with customers and it can be simply an empathetic ear, or a little something that wasn’t expected. 

 

 

 

Q4: How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

 

 

 

 

 

That’s an amazing point, Micah!

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Last question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q5, start your answer with A5 and use the quote the option. 


Q5: Give us examples of your favorite organizations that have built a great CS culture
 

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Q4: How do you go about inspiring a team to offer personalized customer service/"wow" customer service to make your customer feel special?

 

  1. 4 I think offering superior customer service is by really paying attention to your customer, understanding them better and treating each customer as a different individual. This can only happen if we build relationships. E.g.One of the things most customer-service professionals are always taught is to be happy and positive when dealing with a customer but maybe they had a bad-day. So personalizing your experience to them in situations will help feel a customer special. Also remembering small things like their birthdays, etc - little things go a long way!

Adding to this, connecting with them on something they mention or a topic of interest always helps in improving the experience!

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