How To Build A Winning Customer Service Culture In Your Company

What is service culture, exactly? Is it a templated approach to customer service that support teams take? No, it isn’t as simple as that. Service culture is a sustainable organizational culture that bridges the void between workplace culture and customer-centricity. It encourages a collective effort from customer-facing teams across your company to inherently prioritize customers.

While workplace culture is more organization and employee-oriented, service culture puts customers at the forefront of every business goal, organizational vision, and support outcome.

what is service culture
Service culture is the intersection of various tropes of customer service and organizational culture.  

Why is service culture important?

Healthcare and hospitality industries have made empathy and care an integral part of great customer service. Luxury hotels like The Ritz Carlton have set dizzying benchmarks for an outstanding service culture. Their customer success stories reflect how support agents look to delight customers at every possible turn.

An example of exceptional service culture

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Centre decided to transform what would have been a normal brand engagement on Twitter–into a WOW moment for a customer. A guest at their resort, Christina, had enquired about a special alarm clock kept in her hotel room. Her tweets suggested that she has been a loyal customer of Gaylord Opryland Resort for the past three years. 

service culture - Gaylord Opryland
The support team senses an opportunity to elevate the customer’s experience with their great service culture.

Now, without an exceptional service culture ingrained in their organization, the support team of Gaylord Opryland Resort Resort could not have sensed an opportunity to reward a repeat customer. The below screen-grab shows what transpired.

a 'wow' moment that defines service culture
A gift with a personal, handwritten note from Gaylord Opryland Resort to WOW the customer.

Businesses like Zappos and United Airlines have inculcated this brand of exceptional service culture into their support strategy to drive repeat business.

Here’s a service culture story from Zappos

There’s a reason why Zappos’ customer service team is knighted as the “Customer Loyalty Team”. 

One of the Zappos agents clocked a record 10-hour call with a customer, which involved discussions about the customer’s ways of living life in Texas. The conversation ultimately led to a purchase of boots after 10 hours and 29 minutes. This was soon bettered by another agent from Zappos who got on a 10 hour and 43-minute call!

service culture - Zappos
Steven Weinstein, who clocked the 10 hours and 43-minute customer service call for Zappos.

While the purchasing intent of the customers is sometimes beyond the control of customer service, Zappos ensures that every customer has his/her story heard if they’d like to–and its service agents engage in any conversation without prejudice or time limitations.

This story shows how Zappos has developed a tight-knit service culture that is steeped in acquiring customers-for-life by providing exceptional customer service. 

Service Culture may have begun as a B2C practice, but it’s now important to B2B companies as well

The need for a customer-centric service culture is usually only emphasized in B2C companies – most famously in Amazon. While B2C customer service is designed to trigger emotions and immediate action, B2B support is more about value and intent. In fact, since it’s a business at the other end of the support channel that knows what it needs, the expectations on customer service are even higher.

How to develop a customer service culture?

A customer service culture isn’t something that can be built on the go. It needs a proper framework, and if required, multiple iterations until it starts reflecting positively. Your company can develop a seamless customer service culture from the grassroots-level by inculcating the following measures.

#1 Service culture starts from the top

When CEOs provide support to customers, it helps them determine where their customer service efforts stand. This opens up a plethora of opportunities in the B2B market to identify untapped product potential and the need for new features. CEOs also end up learning a lot about empathy and escalation management from the support agents.

Customers feel reassured when they find a CEO on support, replying to queries and posting solution articles. The company’s service culture strikes a chord with them when the CEO is receptive and serious about customer feedback. Support agents can seek inspiration, ideas, and workarounds, by looking at the way the top brass of the organization handles customers. 

CEO on Support is one such initiative that puts into practice the idea of encouraging CEOs to support customers–both to improve customer service and take home invaluable product ideas.

#2 Customer service training

Train your workforce to handle customers with empathy no matter how cold the situation is. Customer expectations have to be prioritized at all turns over what’s easier for the company or as a support agent. The customer service team must be given the armory to readily provide support through any communication channel that the customer prefers.

#3 Rewards & Recognition

Nothing inspires employees to work better than some appreciation and validation from their peers. Incentivizing your employees’ customer service efforts will show how much you care for them. Metrics can be set-up for other channels and weighed against common benchmarks to recognize your employees with helpdesk badges and incentives.

The customer service agents can work more diligently when they are given first-response and resolution-time goals. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will help them act with a sense of urgency in handling customer issues. But to make sure that SLAs are met without hiccups, your customer service needs a helpdesk that is intuitive, non-bloated, and easy-to-use.

If you look after your staff well, they will look after your customers. Simple. - @richardbranson #ServiceCulture Click To Tweet

#4 Gamification of customer support

Gamifying the entire support process can create a healthy competition between your customer service agents. Helpdesk gamification is an innovative way to scale up your support. It also gives them the much-needed motivation to serve customers better. And when delighting customers becomes more fun than all work, a winning service culture starts developing in tandem!

workplace culture - gamification
A set of milestones that are a part of Freshdesk’s customer support gamification.

#5 Feedback & Survey

Modern organizations are now fine-tuning their service strategy by recording customer feedback and taking customer satisfaction surveys. Acting upon feedback and surveys from customers helps instill a deep-rooted sense of service culture in your employees. It also shows the customers how much your company values their feedback. Decathlon, a renowned sports goods retailer, leveraged Freshdesk’s feedback & survey capabilities to achieve an impressive 82% customer satisfaction rating

What are the factors that create service culture in a company?

A sustainable customer service strategy transforms service culture from being a “support effort” to a “way of life”. Modern businesses can leverage this transformation by adopting two quintessential customer support practices to create a service culture.

#1 Accountable Autonomy 

The service culture of your company must encourage every support agent to adopt a personal responsibility towards delighting the customers. Agents should inculcate best practices such as proactively checking a customer’s history of interactions, purchases, and intent before engaging with them, following up with internal teams to ensure a speedy resolution, and even keeping customers updated on the status of their complaint.

To make sure the support function stays aligned to customer expectations, they also need to have openness to adopt technology and find new solutions to delighting customers. Because technology not only improves customer experience but it also makes support easier. 

#2 Inter-team collaboration

There are many instances in customer support where support agents have to collaborate with other internal teams to resolve an issue. Not only should there be an environment of personal responsibility, but frictionless collaboration is also another critical component needed to improve service culture. For instance, it would be very easy for the finance team or the engineering team to refuse to pitch in and help out, as the request might not fall within their ‘primary responsibilities’. 

However, in the interest of imbuing a sense of service culture, your company needs to encourage collaboration between internal teams and frontline service teams to solve customer issues faster. Collaboration between different employees and teams within the workplace will help your company build an organizational culture of team spirit and shared values.

Freshconnect is a team collaboration tool offered as a free integration with Freshdesk. It helps teams within your workplace and also third-party partners to work together to resolve customer queries.

service culture - Team collaboration through a helpdesk
Collaboration ensures hassle-free support and smoother internal outreach.

Bridge the gap between Company Culture and Customer Service

Establishing a relationship between the service and culture of an organization will create a self-sustainable support ecosystem. An organization-wide service culture encapsulates functions like customer service, finance, partner relationships, corporate strategies, workflows, and business processes–to channel them towards a common goal of customer-centricity.

Bringing about these changes used to result in tedious overhauls of organizational hierarchy and existing processes. But with technology, all you have to do is onboard your teams into a client support software with a helpdesk. Helpdesks can help you interweave all these functions to enable company culture and service goals to complement each other. Find out how a helpdesk can help your company drive a customer-first service culture at all turns.