We’ve all heard those scripted words about valuing our business and appreciating our time, monotonously regurgitated for the hundredth time that day by an underpaid customer service representative at the call centre of a large corporation. Yawn. We know we’re just numbers to them, and to some extend we’ve come to accept that, haven’t we? So let’s talk about businesses that are small enough to treat us like individuals, but large enough to need to rely on a group of people to handle customer service. How can such organizations ensure a consistent tone across all forms of communication?
To put it bluntly, they can’t; but more importantly, they shouldn’t. One of the strengths of smaller businesses is their ability to make every interaction feel like a conversation between two individuals. Instead of customer-as-number with employee-as-nameless-minion, small organizations have the opportunity to let clients feel like real people while interacting with employees who can be identified as real people. This is a good thing. In this digital age, authenticity is hard to establish, and although we humans have been developing for over 100,000 years, we haven’t lost our need for trust – and I doubt we ever will.
So, if organizations shouldn’t speak with one voice, but still want to establish consistency between one employee and the next, how can they accomplish that? By focusing on organizational culture! To strengthen a company from within is to increase the likelihood that employees feel engaged, valued, and supported. That, in turn, stimulates a desire to see the company thrive. When we are proud of who we work for, we embody the organization’s values. Those values are present in every phone call, email, and tweet. One employee compared to the next may have a different speaking and writing style, but they are both committed to being helpful, resolving issues, and leaving a positive impression. This is an example of ‘paying it forward’: when a company shows that it values its team, that team will show that it values the company’s customers.
This is, of course, a generalization. When employee and employer don’t have overlapping values, not much can be done to remedy this situation. Sometimes poor customer service arises from miscommunication. And don’t we all have bad days every once in a while? However, from what I’ve experienced on both sides of the customer/employee divide, a company with strong values that trickle down through the organization often has strong customer service.
Have you noticed the same thing? Or have you experienced a situation that runs counter to this? Leave a comment below.