Research has proven what most of us instinctively already know - that support-focused cultures create loyal, happy customers. But how do you turn a customer into a promoter? Even further, how do you create a support-focused culture? Companies who believe in a customer-focused culture almost always outperform their competitors. Below you'll find some helpful tips on how to build, or strengthen, a support-focused culture.
Define what it means for your team.
The first step towards building a support-focused culture is identifying what that means for your business. While there are many definitions spread across the internet, I think it’s important for every company to define the phrase internally. Use this as your guidepost as you grow.
“A support-focused culture is one that is particularly interested in how different parts of the business impact customer support and uses that context to inform other decisions. Lots of companies say they do this, but the companies that really do it well are ones that are willing to make trade-offs such as doing something that's less efficient or less profitable in favor of something that's great for the customer support experience. The long term goal is that such decisions and actions increase customer loyalty.” -- Douglas Hanna, CEO, Help.com
Get everyone involved
From entry-level customer experience associates to upper management, everyone on your team has to be on the same page. Customer Service leader Shep Hyken addressed this in his interview with Help.com late last year.
“The process needs to start with leadership. Customer service needs to be trained, be reinforced, and everyone needs to demonstrate it, so they can become role models for everyone else in the company. Then, when you see success, you need to celebrate that success with your employees. If the customer is happy with the way the company is working, it needs to be communicated to the employees, so they know they’re on the right track and be excited about it.”
Warby Parker is a great example of a company with founders who aren't afraid to pitch in. As evidenced by their Instagram, their CEO’s have been known to sit alongside Customer Experience Associates when call volume gets high. The company also encourages employees of all departments to work a few hours in any showroom to interact with customers face-to-face.
Danny Meyer, Restaurateur and CEO of Union Square Hospitality group, also understands a great customer experience stems from great leadership. Meyer was once famously late to Inc’s Business Owner’s Council event because he stopped at Madison Square Park’s Shake Shack to give each employee a hug and say “thank you” for working on such a cold day. Meyer’s visit stems from his popular belief that it’s the employees, not the customers, who come first. His reasoning? If the employee doesn't feel great about themselves, how will they outperform others and provide excellent service?
Track your progress
We’ve written about our love of NPS before, but this is another example of how tracking metrics can benefit your company.
By being able to verify not only what percentage of customer complaints you have addressed (% of tickets/chats/calls handled), you should also be tracking how the handling of those complaints impacted your customer relationships. NPS is a good indicator of this because it takes your promoters (9 or 10 out of 10) and your detractors (6 or below out of 10) and creates a score that indicates whether customers feel more positively (1 to 100) or more negatively (-1 to -100) about your company.
By ensuring that you’re tracking not only customer issues, but the relationships created by the handling of those issues, you will ensure that your company stays focused on not only volume of complaints addressed, but the quality and long term impact of those responses.
Hire the right people
“We want to hire nice, smart, empathetic, friendly people and empower them to do whatever they need to take care of someone and turn them into a brand promoter.”- John Rote, Bonobos, SmartPlanet
It all comes down to the people you work with. Bonobos, a company famous for encouraging their customer service “ninjas” to go off-script, attributes their success to their ability to hire the right people. Like Meyer, Bonobos believes that having the confidence in your team to do the right thing for the customer is all you really need.
How do you know a candidate is a right fit? Meyer says to look for a high emotional intelligence.The Union Square Hospitality Group website states that a high emotional intelligence is comprised of “everything from the ability to stay cool under pressure, to knowing how to build effective relationships, to just being the kind of person other people want to work with. You can teach someone to do their job more easily than you can teach them how to care about their job.”
A support-focused culture isn’t something you can take a day off from. Make sure to commit to fulfilling your internal definition in each department every day. If you notice your metrics dropping, identify the problem and learn from the experience. Building a support-focused culture is also something that you will never perfect- understand that it’s a learning process and that you’ll constantly find ways you can improve.