Employees will treat customers based on the way managers treat them. I call this the Employee Golden Rule. My formal description of this rule is similar to the familiar adage, “Do unto others as you would want to be done unto you.”
My spin on it is this: Do unto your employees as leaders would want to be done unto the customer (and maybe even better).
The way employees are treated sets the tone for how they treat others—inside and outside of the organization. In my new book, I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again and Again, I dig a little deeper on how to create the I’ll Be Back culture.
Start by recognizing that even though customers think they are doing business with a company, they are doing business with the people inside the company. They will say something like, “I love doing business with them.” But have you stopped and think, “Who are ´them?´”
The word them describes the person or people the customers interact with. They don’t do business with a building or the name of a company. It’s the people. Even in an online company, there are people behind the scenes making sure the process goes flawlessly, and they are there to support the customer if it doesn’t.
That brings us to what I refer to as The Culture Challenge.
In the book, I have seven principles that go into creating the I’ll Be Back culture.
1. Everyone Has to Be in It to Win It
Everyone must know the role they play in the customer experience. If someone is not interacting directly with the customer, they are supporting someone or part of the process who does.
No matter what the responsibility is, every employee does something that ultimately impacts the customer, and they must be willing to do their best to ensure positive results.
2. The Employee Golden Rule
This was covered in the first paragraph of this article. Focus on employees first and they will better engage with the customer. The saying ‘customers come first’ couldn’t be more flawed.
The better you treat your employees, the better they’ll treat customers. Therefore, employees – not customers – come first.
3. Empower People
If you hire good people with talent, let them do their job.
Of course, they do need proper training and the right resources. But once they have those, don’t get in their way of making good customer-focused decisions.
Steve Jobs once said, “It’s not the tools you have faith in. Tools are just tools. They work or they don’t work. It’s the people you have faith in or not.”
4. Put It in Writing
The customer service/experience vision needs to be crystal clear, simple to remember, and written for everyone to see and understand.
Ideally, it’s one sentence or less, which makes it easy for everyone to remember. It’s separate from your vision or mission statement. This is just dedicated to service and experience. Clarity and simplicity are key.
5. Culture Starts at the Top
Yes, the vision comes from leadership. But do you know what else comes from leadership? The behaviors you want others to emulate.
Just as you want employees to live and breathe the I’ll Be Back culture, it must be even more obvious with leadership setting the tone for everyone.
6. Hire and Assign for Amazement
You must put the right people with the right personalities and traits in the right proverbial seats on the bus.
Many companies do a great job of this for customer-facing roles. I’ll argue it’s just as important for the inside of an organization as well. One employee without the right personality that aligns with the culture can potentially erode that culture.
7. Make Sure There Is a Good Coach
In the movie industry, even if you have a superstar actor, a bad director can ruin the movie. In sports, even with the greatest talent, a bad coach will have a losing season. It’s the same in business.
Even the best need coaching. The coach helps assemble the team, defines the players’ roles, and makes sure they work together to achieve chemistry that supports the culture.
Are you ready to accept the cultural challenge?
I challenge you to create a culture in your organization that focuses on not just the customer, but the people inside your organization as well.
Customer service is not a department. It’s a philosophy. It must be baked into your culture. Don’t believe me? Just look at the surveys that pick out the top-rated customer service companies people enjoy doing business with. Then go to Glassdoor.com and look at the top companies to work for. It’s not a coincidence that many of these companies are found on both lists.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Shep Hyken´s Forbes page.