There is something that companies known for their world-class customer service do that other companies don’t. It is what inspires customer retention, it is what reinforces customer loyalty. It isn’t hard to do, but it takes a commitment and awareness by every employee in the company.
That “something”, that critical ingredient, is having a relationship focus, not a task focus. You can tell when an employee is more focused on completing the tasks to their job vs. connecting with the customer. You can hear it in their voice tone or see it through their facial expressions. The customer feels processed in the transaction because there is little to no recognition of the human factor. The employee follows the steps to get the job done and gets ready to move to the next customer.
A relationship-building focus leaves the customer feeling valued. The employee is doing the tasks necessary to produce the promised output, but at the same time, is looking for a way to connect with the customer on an emotional level. For instance, when a Chick-Fil-A employee is asked by a customer for another packet of catsup, rather than just handing the packet to the customer silently, he says “it’s my pleasure” as he is handing it over and smiling too. When Amazon confirms your book order, a box pops up and shares a message saying “here is what other customers who ordered the same book as you also ordered that you might like.” When a student is registering for classes, the scheduler says “Hi, my name is Susan, and your name is? When the student gives her name, the scheduler then asks, “May I have your student ID #?” Now the student feels more like a person vs. just another number. It doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming, just something that makes a customer feel important and special.
Whenever I talk to a customer service rep at USAA, they work to establish a relationship with me first, then try to resolve my needs. It is as simple as the rep saying “oh, I hear your dog barking in the background, what kind of dog do you have?” When I say that I have a chocolate Lab, they usually tell me what kind of dog they have. Now, we both have something else in common besides the issue or problem with my insurance company. Now, we are two human beings who are going to try to work together to handle the situation and make each other’s day, just a little bit easier.
The key is to communicate, educate, and coach your employees so they will know how to become more relationship-focused throughout the customer process. A great way to do this is to hold employee meetings where employees can share ideas of how they have built customer relationships as they have completed their tasks. Other employees then may pick up on these ideas and start incorporating them into their own job processes.