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How does your brand affect customer service?

Customer Service - Great customer service doesn't come from nowhere

I think it’s safe to assume we’ve all had bad experiences of customer service. We’ve all got frustrated when we feel overlooked, ignored or undervalued as a customer. In fact, when we have a positive experience of customer service, it often catches us by surprise.

Great customer service is a powerful brand equity asset and potential differentiator. It increases brand loyalty by helping in customer retention, and can be one of the key components of your brand offering.

But great customer service doesn’t come from nowhere, it doesn’t just happen, like flicking a switch. It comes from your culture, it comes from your Brand Values.

#Brand Values

Brand Values

Brand Values are the the very fabric of your organisation, it’s what you’re made of. Brand Values play a central role in your Brand Identity, defining and shaping your culture, guiding your employees actions and behaviours.

- What are your Brand Values?
- Can you write them down?
- Are they understood by those on your front lines?

Hire on Values

One way to make sure your employees share your Brand Values is to hire based on shared values over credentials. Don’t just think ‘Who is the most qualified for the position?’ think ‘Who best fits our culture?

“Rather than say ‘Culture is important’, actually make it the number one priority of the company. If we get the culture right, then most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service and customer experience happens naturally as a by-product.”Tony Hseih, CEO, Zappos

Zappos’ customer service has become such a big selling point for their brand, they’ve turned it into a marketing tool. The example below is a series of adverts that use real customer service calls.

Leadership

Great customer service happens when employees feel supported and protected by their leaders and managers. Bad customer service comes from a place of fear, when employees are afraid to make a mistake and get in trouble.

Your employees are your most valuable possession, and it is your job as a leader to help them reach their potential. Happy employees – who feel valued, supported and protected – treat customers better. Happy employees leads to happy customers, which in turn leads to happy shareholders. The very idea in business that a CEO’s number one priority is to appease investors is entirely backwards.

It’s the leader that sets the tone. When a leader makes the choice to put the safety and lives of the people inside the organisation first, to sacrifice the tangible results, so that people remain and feel safe and feel like they belong, remarkable things happen.” – Simon Sinek

*Taken from Simon Sinek’s TED talk: Why good leaders make you feel safe

Brand Promise

If you make customer service part of your Brand promise, it is essential to see it as a long-term commitment. When put under pressure to meet short-term investor targets, leaders can make decisions which compromise the long-term health of an organisation, and jeopardise your customer experience.

Rene Carayol tells a story of First Direct Bank, and how a customer service call saved a lady’s life during the 9/11 terrorist attack, all because First Direct made a brand promise.

Unity, not uniformity

You can’t ask your employees to be who they aren’t. The goal is not to create an army of robots who will splert out the company lines. The goal is unity, not uniformity! Forced uniformity feels fake, there is no capacity for empathy or human connection when people are trying to uphold a false identity.

You don’t get harmony when everyone sings the same note.” – Doug Floyd

The video below is of a flight attendant on South West Airlines doing the safety procedures before take-off. As of my writing, it has had 15 Million views on Youtube (Consider how many views your last placed advert was likely to have received). This could only have happened in a company where its leadership and culture allowed employees to feel valued, supported, and able to be themselves.

People want to talk to a real person who can relate to and empathise with their situation. For a Brand to develop a personality, it must have human dimensions. What better way for a Brand to communicate its human dimensions – its Brand Values – than the human connections it makes every day through great customer service?

Questions to ask yourself

- What are your Brand Values?
- How do your Brand Values affect your culture?
- Do your customer service programmes align to your Brand Values?
- Are you developing a culture of unity or uniformity?
- Which of your employees best embody your Brand Values?
- How do you encourage and reward great customer service?
- What does it look like to go above and beyond the expectations of customer service?

 

Click to connect with me on Linkedin

Andy Cogdon – Brand Consultant

 

3 comments

  • Neale Lewis says:

    Great Blog by Andy Cogdon Brand Consultant on the importance of values in driving awesome customer service. Watch the SWA video to give you a bit of light relief at your next team huddle..

  • Mike says:

    Great article. No sense in spending hours writing down a brand’s vision, mission, values and so forth if you’re not putting your beliefs into practice!

  • Louis says:

    A great blog. It’s all about the culture of the organisation, and that’s set at the top by great leadership. Get it right and everyone’s happy – even the investors.

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