THE BLOG
12/31/2013 12:33 pm ET Updated Mar 01, 2014

5 Lessons All Departments Can Learn From the Customer Service Department

Being service oriented is harder. If it wasn't everyone would be service oriented. In fact somewhere along the line you were a customer who got less than great service. And you went to another brand didn't you? Of course you did. In fact 89 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service according to RightNow's Customer Experience Impact Report.

I'm here to give you a friendly reminder that if you are not service-oriented you will not survive. Simple as that. I'm declaring 2014 the year of the service-oriented company.

Providing incredibly service oriented products and services is the way some of the greatest companies in the world became great. Google set out to organize the world's information -- and wow did we need it.

Around 2000 Google's search engine became well known with PageRank an algorithm that ranks web pages based on the number and PageRank of other web sites and pages that link there, on the premise that good or desirable pages are linked to more than others. It was also very clean and easy to use. One of the most important services in the history of technology.

At the time this was ground-breaking. It was the ultimate word of mouth service. It changed everything.

A service oriented approach is mostly found in the customer service department. Perhaps that's because a customer is four times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs. price or product related according to Bain & Co.

Forget Robo Cop. Do you want security for your business? Go gaga over service. A service oriented approach to business is the only choice for the future. Those who don't recognize this will not be here to make mistakes in the future. Here are my five tips from support. Feel free to share yours in the comments section.

Sales can learn from support's can-do attitude.
Disney started the "smile in your voice" training for call center reps. That means on the phone the customer can hear the agent is bubbly and pleased to help. A strong company culture can help your agents feel happy and taken care of -- which will ultimately improve their happiness. Even so only 65 percent of companies provide effective tools and the proper training to gain trust with their customers, according to Peppers and Rogers Group. Give your employees the tools they need to do their job. Inspire them to warmly welcome the customer. It doesn't matter if the customer seems grumpy -- employees must always maintain the positive demeanor. If the customer is given the royal treatment they will come back for more products.


You make the customer *feel* right even if their wrong.

While you can't always appease your customers, you can make them feel heard. When a company and its service agents feel empowered they don't feel the need to make the customer feel wrong. They say it's not what you say but it's how you say it. Want the customer to come again? According to McKinsey 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. With the hustle and bustle of life brands can forget you get more with honey than you do with vinegar. Even if you're providing bad news, do so in the most honey voice possible.


Marketing can serve without concern for making money.

The other day I was on Facebook and I saw a post sent out by a dog food brand. For every Facebook comment the brand would donate a pound of dog food to shelter dogs. Can you imagine these pathetic-looking dogs in a shelter, waiting for people to comment on Facebook so they can stop starving? As a shelter dog rescuer this offends me. Brands please stop bribing people to reward your social media contests through good sharing behavior. Just do good things and karma will take care of you. Just look at WestJet. Stop with the shameless social media greed. Don't act less like the Wolf of Wall St -- consumers can see through insincere social good efforts.


Be self-conscious of your social media like its being tracked and monitored by the world.

It's normal in the service industry that quality measures (eg Dd the customer get the answer? How long did it take? Was it a quality answer?) play a big role. Many times companies record agents in order to provide reps feedback. Everything is tracked. For some reason companies still don't believe that a tweet is public. Social pages go stale. Blogs aren't updated. Customers expect your lights to be on in all channels. Why would your older traditional channels get more attention than the newer channels? Don't forget about social media. It's now a major piece of the equation.

Hire service-oriented employees across all departments.
The strongest customer support reps are self-motivated highly skills communicators. Hire people who have good dispositions. Bring in people who are honored and delighted to come to work every day. Their positive energy and enthusiasm will be contagious, and take your customer experience farther than any technology you could buy. The people factor must come first, the technology second.

What lessons do you have from the customer support department? What are your favorite support oriented companies?