“People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
How do your customers feel once they’ve had an interaction with your business? Maybe a phone call, email exchange, SMS text or letter? Most customer interactions are by phone or email.
Do they go away feeling that you understood their problem and dealt with it well? Will they recommend you to friends and family? Do they go away feeling you could have dealt with it better? Or, do they go away wanting to set fire to your building?
We’ve all had these different feelings with companies that we’ve dealt with ourselves as a customer and the key question is how is your company making your customers feel?
It’ all down to your Brand Ambassadors.
I believe a Brand Ambassador to be your staff on the frontline, who are the human face and voice of your organisation. They’re the ones who need to create the positive memorable experiences for your customers. They are in control of how your customers feel about their interaction with your business. That means ultimately, they are the ones that makes the difference to your organisation’s success. Therefore, your frontline staff need to be equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours that enable them to be true brand ambassadors for your organisation.
With this in mind I’ve put together these seven secrets of how to develop your Brand Ambassadors so that it will help you to transform both your relationships with your customers and their experience with your organisation.
1. Make your staff happy
I don’t mean David Brent “I’m an entertainer first, boss second” type mentality. The question to think about is ‘Are your staff happy at work’? If your staff feel disgruntled, undervalued or burnt out, then how can they be a true brand ambassador for you? They must believe that your company is the best at what you do and a great place to work.
The online company Salesforce notes that as employee engagement rises, businesses see as much as 100% higher customer loyalty. That’s because a happy, engaged support team creates better customer experiences. Some things you could introduce are:
• Give your staff their birthdays off
• Recognise and reward effort
• Offer great training
• Be flexible on start times
• Regular appraisals
• Pay them a few days a year to carry out charity work
• Set up a proper break room
• Give a yearly amount to ‘Health & Well-being’
• Throw lunchtime pizza parties
• Hold a monthly prize draw
• Have an open office day for staff to bring family and friends in
• Ditch the dress code
• Supply free biscuits
• Bring in a therapy dog
• Let your staff watch major sporting events at work
• Have ‘early finish Fridays’
• Surprise staff with new equipment
• Offer discounted gym memberships
• Host a games night
• Encourage workspace personalisation
• Get some plants in the office
• Set up an employee referral program
• Invest in a proper coffee machine
• Celebrate staff anniversaries
• Reward long-serving staff
• Start a cycle-to-work scheme
Also, do you have trained staff to spot the signs of possible mental health issues with other staff members that have the confidence to approach and support that staff member? There are some great Mental Health First Aid courses that you should have a few staff trained on.
2. Set meaningful goals
Setting goals and targets are important in business, especially when it comes to customer service. We set the goals and targets that we require in areas of business using KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators. Having KPI’s in place for staff gives them a clear indication of what is required from them and their performance. It is important though to communicate your KPI’s in a way that helps staff appreciate their purpose and merit. By handing everyone an A4 sheet and saying “Here are the KPI’s, make sure you meet them” will not lead to motivated teams. There must be ‘buy in’ from the outset and your staff need to embrace your organisations values. An example of some KPI’s you might set are:
• Net Promoter Score
• Customer retention
• Conversion rates
• Average Resolution Time
• Customer satisfaction surveys
• Customer Satisfaction Score or CSAT
• Social media monitoring
• % of calls blocked
• Average queue time
• Average answer time
3. Recruit & Retain Superstars
Recruiting customer service staff presents several unique challenges. More than anything else, customer service staff need to be a good fit with the organisation and there can’t be a divide between those running the business and those representing it. Hire for attitude, not skills. If the person hasn’t got the right attitude or culture fit, it’s not going to work. Hire for the right attitude and you can teach them the technical skills that they need.
When going through the recruitment process, try some telephone screening. Someone who interviews brilliantly may be terrible on the phone. Try some role play with ‘real world’ scenarios. If Julie interviewed well and smiled throughout and then on the call screening test told a customer that “she’d rather be flat out on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle than listen to him moan”, then she may not be a good fit.
4. Develop your staff
We all want our staff to deliver remarkable customer service every time. We therefore need to make an investment in our staff if they are to represent our brand in the most effective way. There are companies that offer in-house training courses to improve customer service and there are also exercises and tasks that you can carry out yourself with your teams. Some things you can introduce to develop your staff:
• Regular 1:1 meetings
• Team briefings
• Buddying & co-coaching
• Team building exercises
• Exercises to train good listening
• Exercises to improve advisor questioning
• Emotional Intelligence exercises
• Problem solving tasks
• Regular appraisals
• ‘In Customers Shoes’ exercise
Your customer service departments are responsible for building profitable customer relationships. So, they’re worth investing in.
5. Make sure your staff understand your brand and values
“Hi, I need some technical help. I keep making typos on my computer and I can’t delete the text”
“Have you tried Tippex sir?”
It’s essential that your team know as much as they possibly can about your services, products, your brand and what it stands for and your company values. A recent Gallup poll found only around 41% of employees said that they knew what their companies stood for. Your staff needs to know your brand purpose, what you’re willing to stand for and what your vision of the future looks like so that they can adapt the right tone when acting as an ambassador. For instance, Nokia teaches employees facts like:
• What the company vision is and where the brand is headed
• When Nokia first sold their one-billionth mobile phone
• What Nokia made before they moved into the technology world
6. Empower your staff
Companies who are famously great at customer service all have one thing in common; they give their staff the power to solve problems. Let employees think for themselves – “I just need to check with my manager” – Don’t you just hate that? Yep, and so do your customers. Give your staff the power to say ‘Yes’ to most things. Customers appreciate the speed of getting things sorted.
The luxury hotel chain Ritz-Carlton empower their staff with a $2000 per customer budget to put things right if there’s a problem. Not $2000 per year – £2000 per customer. They trust and empower their staff to make things right. Give them access to information fast – The knowledge that could solve most customer support issues already exists inside your company. The only problem is making it easy for your agents to find and deploy it, on demand. So, make it easy and fast to access. Connect them with your company’s experts – Even the best knowledge base in the world can’t capture everything your company knows. A lot more will always live in the heads of your people in every department.
7. Gather Customer Feedback and Actually Act on It
The best way to find out how customers are feeling is to simply ask them. You can gain this information whilst on the line to them, NPS or a survey. Here are the two keys to customer feedback:
• You must give customers a compelling reason to share their thoughts
• You have to actually use their feedback
You can have piles of customer feedback forms and surveys on your desk and they won’t mean anything unless you act on them. Go through them all, maybe even set up a focus group of a few employees and come up with solutions. Listen to your customers, act on their experiences, and you’ll be well on your way to providing the best customer service.
As Tony Hsieh, the founder of mega shoe company Zappos said “Customer service should not be a department. It should be the entire company.” Delivering remarkable customer service is an ongoing process as there will always be something you can do to improve or enhance your customer experience.
Last year we worked with the teams at Equiniti and their frontline staff and they’ve just this week been awarded ‘Super Brand’ status. Read about it here: Click Here
I wish you every success in your quest to be the very best.