Case Study: Culture Change
A tech company sells to an industry with high expectations of customer service. Many of its employees come from that industry and are in sync with those expectations, but most employees involved with software development and escalated support do not have a customer service background and it wasn’t a priority for them.
The result, unhappy customers.
We recognized that the company needed to instill a customer service culture, and culture change is hard. A comprehensive solution was called for.
We took a multi-faceted approach. First, we identified and defined key customer service competencies. These provided a focus for our further efforts, as well as a common vocabulary for all employees regardless of their function or background.
Second, we conducted a training program for all employees. This consisted of a discussion of the importance of excellent customer service to the continued success of the company, an introduction of the competencies, and training on a specific set of customer service skills.
Third, we introduced a new performance evaluation system centered on the competencies. The evaluation included internal customer feedback, with an emphasis on improvement from one evaluation period to the next. It also required that each employee have one customer service development goal each evaluation period. People knew that they would be held accountable, and that they were expected to show growth in this area.
Finally, we instituted a recognition program that publicly praised winners for specific instances of customer service excellence. By telling these stories in detail, we reinforced the positive behavior of the winners, we provided concrete examples for all other employees of what great customer service looks like, and we actually created an informal company “mythology” around customer service, as certain stories achieved “legendary” status. The awards were presented in a way that highlighted the company’s continuing focus on customer service, and became, for many, the favorite part of company-wide meetings.
Customer feedback improved dramatically over the course of 18-24 months.
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