Performance:Build customer loyalty by treating staff with respect

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:32 pm

So much is said and written about customer service. However, few companies seem to really get it. Few businesses walk the walk.
I recently came across one company that understands how customer service can create customer loyalty. That company is North Prairie, Wis.-based Woodhaven Homes and Realty.
As customers, it became clear to my wife and me why Woodhaven has won several "builder of the year awards."
The company has instilled two corporate goals that everyone on its team must embrace. The first goal is to create a quality product. The second goal is to create a quality experience for the customer throughout the entire building process.
The following are four basic requirements that are critical to master for an organization such as Woodhaven to produce a high degree of customer loyalty on a consistent basis.
(1) Hire the right people. This is common sense isn’t it? However, it is not always accomplished. Having people on your team that share the same core values is the important first step. Core values are guidelines that determine individual and organizational actions and behaviors. They serve as tools and filters aiding us in the management of our business. Common sense tells us that if there is a disconnect between the core values of an organization and its members, then this disconnect will likely produce a less desirable customer experience ultimately resulting in a lack of customer loyalty.
(2) Attitudes and behaviors are contagious. Is yours worth catching?
Whatever your corporate culture happens to be, that very same cultural experience will be projected onto your customers. Creating a team that is passionate about their work and work performance requires ownership and management to demonstrate they too are passionate about their employees and customers.
Keeping your people happy with respectful and fair treatment has enduring educational benefits as well. At work, people tend to mimic the behaviors they observe. If ownership and management treats their employees well, the employees will pay it forward, treating your customers the very same way. If owners and managers struggle with establishing a comfortable corporate culture, it would be inappropriate for owners and managers to expect their customer contact team to excel at something their own organization struggles with.
Remember, we all learn by example to some degree, so be sure to treat your employees as the cherished resource that they are. Treat them with respect and care, so they will do the same for your customers. You can’t expect your employees to treat your customers any better than your employees are treated by you.
(3) Be clear about performance goals and expectations.
How about this as an overriding customer service goal? Behave in a way that will create a customer for life. This is a measurable goal (customer retention), and it would be fairly difficult for someone to say they don’t understand what it meant. Behave in a way that will create a customer for life sounds familiar doesn’t it? It sounds an awful lot like the Golden Rule – treat people as you would like to be treated.
Aside from the customer-for-life goal, which really should be stated as a core value within all customer contact departments, you still need to establish key performance measures and/or service-related performance goals that are appropriate and measurable. Without performance guidelines, you and your team will have no way to keep score, which means you will have no way to create meaningful dialog around the topic of continuous performance improvement.
(4) Check their work.
Once appropriate performance goals have been established, you must have a repeatable and reliable way (process) of checking your team’s actual performance and compare it to the plan. Remember that most well-intentioned, hard-working team members want feedback about their work. If you don’t provide them with meaningful feedback, in time, your employees will give someone else the opportunity to do so.
In simple terms, creating customer loyalty is all about treating your customers as the cherished resource they are. Give your customers every reason to cherish the relationship they have with your organization.
Philip Mydlach is the owner of Mydlach Management Advisors, a corporate planning and performance improvement business in New Berlin. He can be reached at (262) 785-5552 or at pmydlach@aol.com.
January 7, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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