Building Brand Loyalty Through a Customer-Centric Company Culture
A strong customer service culture lies at the heart of many successful brands. But it can sometimes be challenging to maintain an enduring customer-centric focus as companies expand and diversify. Keeping a values-based customer service culture, even in the midst of growth, is essential because regardless of how stellar a product or service is, if customers are not able to receive effective support easily and quickly, their opinion of the product and, more importantly, of your brand may be at risk.
In this post, we explore what a customer service culture is, who creates it, and how to cultivate it to create rewarding experiences and satisfied customers.
Driving Excellent CX Through a Customer Service Culture
As customers undergo their own digital transformation, they have high expectations of the brands whose products and services they consume. In fact, 72% of consumers expect brands to have knowledge of their previous engagements. When a consumer is asked to explain their problem to multiple people when seeking support, they are disappointed. After just one bad experience, many consumers will abandon a brand or speak negatively about their experience with other consumers.
More than half of all enterprises outsource their customer service to third-party business process outsourcing (BPO) partners like iQor. In order to provide customers the quality service they deserve, it’s critical to ensure that the entire customer service team and frontline staff responsible for delivering customer service are plugged into the culture of the brand they serve.
At iQor, customer service culture is in our DNA. Creating an exceptional customer experience is the minimum bar we set for the brands we support, no matter the industry. This culture permeates interactions at all levels to provide positive experiences for employees and customers alike.
What Is a Customer Service Culture?
Though a customer-centric focus is essential for those with positions in customer service, marketing, sales, and product creation, it is beneficial for all departments within a company to be customer-driven. In other words, in this culture the entire company is customer-driven, even employees in departments that seemingly don’t engage directly with customers. Think of it as a universal “customer first” culture.
In this culture, even staff in departments such as accounting, which is commonly viewed as unrelated to customer engagement, come to the realization that every department exists to either help win a new customer or keep and support existing customers. Consider the people in accounting who pay suppliers’ invoices. The parts (or services) purchased from suppliers are used to build your brand’s products. Treating suppliers like customers is a healthy mindset when it’s understood that without suppliers, you can’t make the products you sell to your customers.
By infusing a customer-centric mindset into your enterprise’s core values, vision, and mission, you lay the foundation to build a customer-focused culture across the entire business. Rather than wondering how each department is connected to the customer, this mindset empowers everyone to connect those dots easily. Research and development will focus on building products and services that solve customers’ challenges. Sales and marketing will communicate your brand’s value proposition clearly to current and prospective customers. And your leadership will always ensure that you have the appropriate customer support resources in place—whether in-house or outsourced—so that when your customers have questions or problems, the support they receive will be exceptional and they’ll want to tell others about it. This deepens employee engagement and customer loyalty. In this way, an entire corporate culture is a customer-centric culture.
The culture of your organization is two-fold. It is supported by your company’s stated values and beliefs, while also developing naturally through the attitudes and behaviors that result from business policies, decisions, and practices.
6 Key Elements of a Great Customer Service Culture
Customer service culture should be rooted in your mission, but having all the right pieces in place doesn’t happen automatically. Moreover, it doesn’t happen solely because it’s written in your mission statement; it evolves from a true commitment to customer service and the related attitudes and behaviors that permeate your organization. Some key elements are crucial to making your company culture a customer-centric one.
1. Consistent Training and Coaching to Improve Customer Service
From recruiting to onboarding to training and nesting, new employees must be engaged in training that not only solidifies their product and program knowledge, but also builds their soft skills embedded in the company’s mission, vision, and values so they become a part of the customer-centric company DNA.
This training and coaching should be ongoing and a part of the lived experiences and behaviors throughout the organization. Company-wide training and re-training add to the employee experience as they deepen their commitment to the customer-centric culture and support your brand’s commitment to providing great customer service.
2. Empowerment to Take Initiatives
Frontline staff responsible for handling customer questions and solving problems can deliver a better customer experience when they are empowered to help customers.
Customer service representatives are equipped with well-developed scripts to guide their answers to a wide variety of questions and provide a consistent level of service and expertise. A customer-centric culture, however, also empowers employees to resolve customer issues and address their pain points in ways that make sense for each situation.
This empowerment is facilitated by intelligent automation that can help guide agents while they are servicing customers, removing some of the burdens placed on them when handling complex questions. This reinforces your company’s commitment to entrusting frontline staff to resolve customer questions and contributes to retention. This is further enhanced by speech analytics which not only facilitates compliance monitoring but also provides insight into the customer and employee experience to inform script modifications as well as training and coaching so agents have the skills and resources they need to meet customer needs.
Customers assuredly prefer communicating with brand representatives who show empathy for their situation and demonstrate a willingness to resolve it. The customer will be frustrated if the customer service representative reads the same scripted response they’ve heard before while their problem remains unresolved. Your customer service representatives should show empathy, making a human connection with each customer to create a memorable customer experience that will leave a lasting positive impression and build loyalty to your brand.
3. Common Language
While some scripted customer conversations are warranted to enable customer support delivery at scale, it’s important to instill a culture of using common language to facilitate human connections with your customer. Such common language details should be covered in training and re-training exercises.
For instance, a strong customer service culture can underpin the delivery of empathetic customer support in health care. If a patient asks questions about their deductible or copay, it’s important that the customer service representative uses common language that aligns with the customer-centric culture. Training and re-training should ensure the representative can show a patient-first approach through active listening, empathy, and a clear understanding of the program to differentiate between copays and deductibles and resolve the patient’s issue effectively. When this shared language is part of the company culture, it promotes consistent and rewarding experiences with the brand.
Common language should be delivered consistently internally as well as being included in presentations, internal emails, newsletters, internal documents, etc. Such communication should use specific terms and phrases that are commonly used to describe your products and services. Indeed, a customer service culture should be part of your brand voice.
All customer-facing communication should follow suit as well so that customers visiting your website or social media posts will recognize the same language, voice, and approach that they receive when interacting with your customer support specialists.
4. Leadership by Example
Examples of excellent customer service experiences should be everyday occurrences in your business when there is a company-wide customer-centric culture. Enterprises looking to partner with a business process outsourcing solution provider like iQor should conduct a thorough examination of the BPO’s customer-centric culture as part of the overall assessment. BPO CX services should extend beyond just training agents about your brand’s products to also include training and development about your brand’s culture in order to serve as an authentic representation of your brand’s culture and voice to your customer.
The way to lead by example is to observe the culture of the BPO. Is the BPO a living, breathing example of being customer-centric? How do they interact with you? What do their training programs look like? Do they boost retention and support the company culture through clear career paths that provide growth and opportunity for agents and supervisors?
5. Humility and Respect
Great customer service is rooted in respect and informed by humility. When a customer has a problem, they want to be heard and supported with empathy. Customer service employees should be empowered to listen well and trained to seek to understand the customer before jumping in to try to solve a problem they may not fully comprehend yet.
Processes that allow flexibility with the time needed to complete a support request, for example, leave space for the customer to vent so the support agent is empowered to help that customer feel cared for in that situation. This increases first-call resolution rates and promotes customer satisfaction through human connections. Training that teaches active listening skills and empathy sets support specialists up for success in a customer-centric culture.
6. Balance Between Technology and Humanity
Automation and omnichannel customer support are on the rise, which is fantastic for you and your customers when human connections remain at the center. Recent research shows that 69% of customers are satisfied with their chatbot experiences.
Still, customers expect a balance between technology- and human-based customer service. Some customers strongly prefer access to an agent via phone to speak with a live representative. Others may prefer the ease and convenience of SMS-based texting. But most customers can tell the difference between a live chat with a real person and a programmed chat.
It’s crucial to know when it is practical and effective to offer chatbot support for requests such as password reset or account balance and knowing when to connect your customers with a human representative either through live chat or a voice line. When offering a digital menu of options to the customer, the choices should provide options that address the most common scenarios through a balance of technology and the human touch. And they should include an intuitive option to seamlessly switch to live support at any point in the customer journey.
This is why iQor named our podcast “Digitally Irresistible” to showcase experts with a mix of CX technology and human interaction know-how. A successful customer-centric support program finds the right blend of CX technology while prioritizing efficiency and maintaining the human touch that creates smiles.
Benefits of a Customer-Centric Company Culture
A customer service culture across the entire company benefits more than the customer service team. When the customers’ needs and interests are embedded in your culture, the entire brand benefits. Your business will strengthen brand loyalty, stand out from the competition, and win more customers. It will meet customer expectations and create a great customer experience.
The impact of excellent customer support services on your business can be very consequential. Loyal customers take customer service seriously and base their decision to continue purchasing from your brand on that. Over 81% of consumers have reported that a positive customer experience improves the chances of making another purchase from the same business.
Customers with good customer service experiences are likely to return and recommend you to others. As Shep Hyken says in his book, “I’ll Be Back”, “A great experience gets customers to return again and again.”
Exceptional customer service is an opportunity for enterprises to set themselves apart from the competition. Customers value great service, and they are more likely to shift from a competitor to your brand when they experience excellent service. High-quality customer service can be the reason a customer moves to your brand or stays with your brand, both of which are of high value to your business.
A True Customer Service Culture Enhances CX
When customer service is truly part of your company’s culture, you can ensure that the customer always comes first, no matter what. Whether it’s executives making big decisions, frontline representatives speaking with customers, or developers designing the digital experience, each stakeholder must prioritize the customer, making business decisions that serve their interests and needs. A satisfied customer is a happy customer and that builds loyalty.
Whether your company delivers customer service in-house or chooses to partner with a BPO provider like iQor to manage cost-effective high-quality customer service, a customer-centric culture is foundational to creating smiles with your employees and with your customers.
Experience the Best in Customer Service
iQor is ideally suited to help brands create amazing customer experiences. iQor provides a comprehensive suite of full-service and self-service scalable offerings that are purpose-built to deliver enterprise-quality CX.
Our award-winning CX services include:
- A global presence with 40+ contact centers across 10 countries.
- A CX private cloud that maximizes performance and scales rapidly across multiple geographies on short notice.
- A partnership approach where we deploy agents and C-level executives to help maximize your ROI.
- The perfect blend of intelligent automation for scale and performance coupled with an irresistible culture comprised of people who love to delight your customers.
- Virtual and hybrid customer support options to connect with customers seamlessly, when and where they want.
- The ability to launch a customer support program quickly, even when you need thousands of agents ready to support your customers.
- A best-in-class workforce management team and supporting technology to create a centralized organization that can better serve your entire business.
iQor helps brands deliver the world’s most sought-after customer experiences. Interested in learning more about the iQor difference? If you’re ready to start a conversation with a customer experience expert, contact us to learn about how we can help you create more smiles.
James McClenahan is executive vice president and chief sales officer at iQor.