How to make customer care an attitude, not just a department
The responsibility for delivering exceptional customer care lies with each member of your business, not just your customer services department and at UGP we promote excellence in customer care in everything we do. Each of our people, from the business owners, to the newest member of the UGP family has an important role in the development of a culture that delivers great customer service, which we believe turns the customer relationship from supplier to trusted partner.
This underlying belief has been instrumental in our success, in terms of customer retention (which currently sits at over 90%) and in terms of our growth; so much so that we were recently recognised as one of the highest performing privately owned businesses in the UK on the Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track list.
In this blog we share our top 5 tips for creating a business culture that puts customer service excellence at its core.
Tip 1: Map the full customer journey
The process of mapping the customer journey is a critical step for businesses who wish to truly understand the customer’s motivation to interacting with you, the various touchpoints they experience when dealing with you and the channels they access your brand through.
By mapping the customer experience and journey, businesses are able to discover important pain points and bottlenecks in their processes. It can also help to streamline cross-departmental services to ensure seamless interactions and it ultimately assists businesses in improving the customer experience.
Mapping the customer journey should not be done in departmental isolation – doing so restricts appreciation of the wider experience and the results are open to subjective interpretation. Instead, an individual within the business should be appointed to work with and alongside each department of the business – from marketing (to capture the initial way in which customers first encounter your brand) through to the point at which they either stay with you or leave you as a customer.
Tip 2: Focus on employee engagement
It’s a well-known and accepted fact that happy employees create happy experiences - for customers and for anyone that interacts with your brand. An "engaged employee" is defined as one who is fully absorbed and enthusiastic about their work, taking positive action to further the organisation's reputation and interests.
Effective employee engagement programmes foster an environment that encourages employees to give their best each day, leading to an enhanced sense of self- worth and greater contribution to the organisation’s overall success, improving the customer experience.
While there are countless ways to implement an effective employee engagement strategy, it’s important to start by listening to what your people have to say. Engagement starts with a bottoms-up approach – by giving employees a voice you’ll discover what your employees need and value from work as well as what steps you can take to improving trust and value in your employment proposition; employee engagement surveys are a great place to start.
Tip 3: Foster a culture of responsibility and reward
Trust is an essential ingredient for building productive happy workforces and happy people are more willing to go the extra mile for their employees and customers. By trusting employees to do their jobs and by giving them the responsibility to structure their work in a way that works for them, your people will feel more valued. It’s not always possible to allow employees total flexibility in how they work, but it is possible to encourage them to take responsibility for their behaviour at work and have an input into their goals and objectives in a way that makes them feel valued and trusted.
Importantly, building a reward system that recognises great work and behaviour built from a place of trust can be highly beneficial. Here’s an example - rather than having penalties for high absence or sickness, how about an attendance reward system? The end result will be similar but the motivation for employees changes from negative enforcement to positive reinforcement.
Tip 4: The “magic question”
There are countless guidelines businesses can follow to improve the customer experience, and we’ve shared our experience dealing with queries and complaints before. However, one question we’ve not so far touched on in our customer services blog series is one simple question that can transform your customer care experience.
Consider asking your customers what “good” looks like to them. In other words, “what would we need to do to mean that you’d walk away from this experience 100% happy with the service you received from our organisation?” This is a great question for two main reasons. First, it encourages the customer to think of their future relationship with you and secondly, the customer shares their expectations with you so that you can tailor your approach to their needs.
Tip 5: Embed continuous improvement processes
Ensuring that your business is in a constant state of driving process improvements is essential in a world where customers expect increasingly higher standards. The starting point is to develop feedback systems that give customers the opportunity to give honest and valuable feedback. It’s important to obtain feedback throughout the entire customer journey, not just at the start of the relationship when most companies tend to capture opinions that may be more favourable than months of years into the relationship.
Companies that use feedback to measure their performance at a business, team and individual level, as well as question how they may improve, develop a deep understanding of themselves and their customers and ultimately improve the customer experience.
In summary, for a company to be truly customer-oriented, it needs to approach customer care from a holistic perspective – both in terms of the full customer journey and multiple touch points, and by developing a happy, engaging team of people who are willing and committed to go the extra mile for your business, and the customers you serve.
To talk to United Gas & Power about how your business can benefit from a business energy supplier that truly puts you first, call us on 0844 3180044.
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