Tips For Improving Customer Relations
We’ve all heard the phrase “putting the customer first,” but what does it really mean? Particularly in a challenging marketplace, relationships are central to organizational success—after all, satisfying customer needs is why our organizations exist in the first place. So how do you build a customer-centric culture?
Hand-pick and retain your customer service team
Companies that make a truly positive impact on customers are often the ones that make hiring decisions based on values, attributes and attitudes.
JetBlue Airways is one of my favorite examples of customer-centric hiring. Part of talent identification at JetBlue is interviewing candidates based on their customer service orientation. In my experience as a customer, JetBlue employees have always gone out of their way to make my travel experience comfortable and convenient. It’s not just about training—it’s about finding people who already possess those attributes.
Do you hold customer service roles in high esteem? Are those the jobs that your people aspire to? What perks go along with it? If your customer service staff are on the front lines, they need to feel special and know that they are important to developing long-term relationships.
Acknowledge employees as a customer base
Our employees are the ambassadors of our brands. Happy employees purchase their company’s products, talk about the company and build positive awareness wherever they go. Not only are they your most valuable asset in terms of knowledge, but they are also essential in getting the word out about the value of your organization.
Make customers feel like part of your community
When I think of great customer service, I think of local shops that know my name, treat me like I’m important and get me to feel like I’m a part of their success. What’s missing from most businesses right now? Many companies have forgotten the enormous benefit of developing a sense of community and meaning with each other and our customers. This may be as simple as a high-touch approach where customers get a personal call thanking them for their business, or as complex as launching a strategy to engage their sense of participation.
Today’s consumers want to be part of something positive, and they are spending more and more time researching the places where their dollars go. What kind of social contribution is your company making to the world, and how can you help customers feel that by purchasing your products or services, they are contributing to something good?
Sprint recently announced that the company is targeting a 90 percent cell phone take-back (aka recycling) program. Enterprise Rent-A-Car just doubled its hybrid fleet and has established 80 branches that specialize in renting hybrid cars—the move comes in direct response to customer demand. Consumers feel more loyal and get more excited about brands that provide those kind of win-win opportunities.
KARLIN SLOAN is the founder and president of Karlin Sloan & Co. (karlinsloan.com), which provides executive coaching, team building and leadership development. Email Karlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.