Want Great Customer Service? Treat Employees Well
Quality customer service is a value that many—if not most—companies would consider a priority and even a differentiating point when compared to competitors. Hospitality companies (including hotels and restaurants), in particular, would likely all say they offer good customer service. But to truly provide exceptional customer service a company must excel at employee service: employees that are well cared for in the workplace are the employees who will pass that on to consumers. And if employees are not treated well and valued, long term success at customer service will be unattainable.
To achieve excellence in service to all—customers, employees, suppliers, and constituents—consistent expressions of compassion ultimately produce a company culture that employees and customers alike will celebrate.
It’s difficult to meet the needs employees have outside of work if there isn’t a culture of care, including knowing about and addressing struggles and challenges they may deal with. But meals delivered or chores taken care of in times of illness or convalescence, attending their loved one’s funeral, and celebrating successes or milestones go a long way in building a sense of family and demonstrating true care. Making connections to employees as people builds trust.
Support and Defend
Employees responsible for customer service know very well that not every customer is pleasant, appreciative, or even gracious. When an employee is mistreated by a patron, management can have one of two responses: support the employee or appease the customer. When employers always side with abusive customers, it demoralizes staff, causing them to either go against their values and follow suit, or even to give up entirely. But employees that are defended in the face of abuse will trust their employers, feel supported and cared for, and will be empowered to recognize mistreatment as well as appreciation from customers. Employees appreciate when the company puts them first, and will pay it forward in customer service.
Keep Emotional Bank Accounts Full
Hospitality companies and restaurants that cater to high-end customers expect premium customer service. But even more casual establishments can be characterized by such high quality service when employees are equipped and motivated. Encourage and permit employees to achieve their best, recognize exceptional performance, develop a team spirit, and emphasize the Golden Rule. Invest in employees’ emotional well-being and they will have resources to draw on to provide top service to all customers.
Create Employee Advocates
American consumers are subject to brand messaging from a number of sources. They generally trust the opinions and recommendations of their peers the most, and company advertising the least. But employees occupy an important middle ground: with both inside company knowledge and frontline customer interaction, the feedback of staff has a powerful impact on prospective patrons. Employee feedback has been behind the success of such websites as Glassdoor.com (to inform potential employees about the experience of existing and former staff). And when satisfied and empowered employees speak about your exceptional hospitality company or restaurant, their enthusiasm as advocates is the best advertisement you could hope for. A healthy and supportive culture results in employees going the extra mile, putting in the extra effort, delighting rather than just satisfying customers, and treating customers well because you treat your employees well.
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