A closer look at service culture
Franck Louveau Consultant – Service DNA at EHL Advisory Services
You may have heard how important service culture is, especially in the hospitality industry. But what exactly is service culture and why is it so important? Let’s take an in-depth look at this concept and how it plays out through customer service culture examples.
Service Culture definition
You may find varying definitions of the term ‘service culture’. In essence, it refers to a company culture that’s focused on customer service, so you could also call it customer service culture. A company with a service culture focuses its mission and processes on serving the customer first and foremost.
The goal is to provide the best experience and most value for the customer, and each employee’s duties should be focused on that goal. An effective service culture motivates team members to put the customer first.
Why is Service Culture important?
Customer service culture is important because it’s the key factor that leads to great service. When customers experience excellent customer service, they are more likely to continue with your business and also encourage other people to try it. In other words, providing superior customer service helps your business gain repeat customers, plus a new word-of-mouth clientele.
People will associate your brand with a positive experience. They will enjoy the time they spend with your brand, they will want to have the experience again and they will provide free marketing by spreading positive feedback about your business.
How does Service Culture work?
Even if you have an idea of what customer service culture is, it may be harder to understand how to implement it. This kind of culture happens when you make customers the focus of your business model. The business philosophy, mission, values and processes should all be directed to the customer and the customer’s experience with every stage of your brand.
Employees in every part of the business need to have this focus upon providing excellent service to the customer. Through a service culture, the employees learn to carry out duties and make decisions with the customer always in mind as the top priority.
A customer experience consultant and customer service trainer notes on Forbes.com that service culture creates an atmosphere in a business. Centering the business on the customer becomes the standard way things are done. It becomes second nature to everyone working for the business, from staff to management to leadership. And each person in the company continues to find ways to make the customer experience even better. They become passionate about this mission, which can also help them enjoy their own work more.
Customer Service Culture examples
If you’re looking for a service culture example, a few companies that embody this idea are Zappos, Nordstrom and Ritz-Carlton.
Zappos puts its focus on customer service and has a practice of giving employees a choice between becoming part of its “Zapponian” culture or receiving money to voluntarily quit the job. Ritz-Carlton employees are made part of a culture where they are referred to as Ladies and Gentlemen, and they are given a certain amount of discretionary spending so they have the power to make decisions that help customers. Nordstrom employees always look for ways to improve their service rather than feeling like what they are doing is good enough.
You can see the commonality that a service culture centers on employees who are treated well, included in the culture and encouraged to provide great service above all.
Service Culture best practices
Here are some best practices to follow for creating a service culture:
Provide Service Culture training: Train employees from the start in your unique service culture and how they can implement it at all times. Have a mission, philosophy, policies and procedures for them to follow.
Communicate with customers: Survey customers. Carry out research to better understand what your target customers are looking for and how your business could improve. Continue to perform this research and look for ways to do better. When customers provide feedback, listen and take it seriously. Encourage all employees to do the same. Also, management and leadership can ask for feedback from employees, who often have valuable ideas on ways to improve processes and create a better customer experience.
Include all parts of the company: The customer service culture needs to permeate the entire company. It won’t work if the employees are encouraged to provide excellent customer service while the management and leadership are making opposite demands. The entire atmosphere and focus of the company needs to be on the customers, from top to bottom.
Seek out the right hires: While anyone can be trained in customer service, some people will carry it out better than others. A company can create a better culture by hiring the right candidates from the start and then training them to perform even better. The right ones will have traits that fit customer service, such as people who are helpful, team players, friendly, problem-solvers and empathetic.
Encourage a customer focus: Companies can encourage employees to follow the service culture in certain ways. They can create consistency in policies and practices so every job duty is centered on service. They can create company-specific names for employees and the culture to help team members feel a part of the company. Also, they can use incentives, such as providing recognition and rewards for service well done. Another example is to make service an important part of raises and promotions. On the other side, companies need a plan for weeding out or further training employees who do not embody the service culture.
Improve Customer Service skills
As you can see, customer service is an important part of good business. Creating a service culture ensures that customers are the main focus of every part of the business. This type of service culture is especially important in the hospitality and travel industries where customer experience is everything.
To work in these industries, customer service traits need to be an important part of your skills and experience. Improving these areas can help you stand out to potential employers. Also, employers can provide training opportunities to help their team members continue to improve their service skills.