Play “follow the leader” – Cochran believes an organization’s leaders set the tone for everything, good or bad, that takes place within the company. “Leaders have followers,” he states, “so whatever the leader focuses on is of the utmost importance.” It is important that the leader keep his focus always on the customer, rather than internal politics, ego gratification, and other typical distractions within an organization.
Remind employees of their mission within the organization – Leadership must sincerely and regularly remind workers of the reason they have jobs. A quick daily meeting can establish the tone of the work week and be a source of inspiration in an organization of any size. Employees have many distractions in the workplace and a constant conversational reminder will ground them in their primary cause within the company.
Shine a spotlight on employees – One of the best ways to improve all-around customer service is to give employees the attention they deserve. After all, they are the ones who actually interact with customers. If the workers are consistently well trained, motivated, mentored, and equipped with the proper tools to serve the clientele, they will show outstanding passion for their job and thus do it well.
Recognize outstanding service – “One of leadership’s most important jobs is to honor individuals who go beyond their job descriptions and truly delight their customers,” Cochran asserts. “The best way to empower employees is to identify peers who have excelled in customer service.” By identifying exceptional workers in a dignified manner, leadership sets the pace for other peers to follow.
Realize that smart organizations learn from their mistakes – If an organization fails in delivering excellent customer service, leadership must be honest and open with both customers and employees about the mistakes that were made. Mistakes are important because they lead to innovation. Management must outline clear actions that will remove the causes of the organization’s failures and then take steps to alleviate the problem.
Consider using a focus group – A focus group brings together a small, carefully selected group of people to explore perceptions about a certain idea, service, policy, or product. “The power of a focus group lies in its ability to leverage multiple channels of communication and thought,” Cochran says. “When you buckle down and really explore the many facets of a possible innovation to the organization, you are more able to make well thought-out decisions.”
Keep customers informed of improvements – When an organization makes a much-needed innovation to their services, it must be communicated to the customers. They are the ones, after all, who demand the evolution. Cochran insists, “If customers don’t realize that there’s been an improvement, there’s no improvement.”