How to Create a Customer-Centric Culture

Creating a customer-centric culture starts with treating your employees like royalty.

I absolutely love The Station Grill. Growing up in Roosevelt Park and living in Muskegon, Michigan, for most of my life, I’ve probably eaten there a hundred times. When my wife and I were looking for someplace to eat last Friday night, and she suggested going there, I was like, “Heck yeah!”

Why do I love The Station so much? It’s simple. Everything’s great. Hot ‘n Tangy wings – great. Burritos – great. Customer service – great.

I listened to a podcast with customer service and experience expert Shep Hyken that touched on this very topic. His premise is that you need to start on the inside with your employees to deliver the “rock star” caliber service provided by Amazon, Apple, Southwest Airlines, and The Station (I threw that one in). 

As the saying goes, “The customer is king.” When it comes to customer service, the employee is king or queen. Creating a customer-centric culture comes down to the Employee Golden Rule:

Do unto your employees as you want done unto the customer – or better!

That concept is the key to creating a customer-centric company. This aligns perfectly with something we have at Revel called the 3-Way Test. A customer-centric culture is good for the customer, good for the company, and good for you. That’s a win-win-win. To make this happen, Hyken created a simple process

1. Define your customer service vision

Leadership must create a vision that is easy to understand and remember. For example, the Ritz-Carlton has a credo that is nine words long: We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. Everyone who comes to work at the Ritz-Carlton knows and understands this vision. We have a vision at our agency. It’s called the Customer Code. The key to making it come to life is found in the next steps.

2. Train to the vision

Your employees come to you with varied skills and levels of experience, and it’s up to you to train them in your core values and customer service expectations. Customer service training isn’t something you did — it’s something you do, ongoing. That last point really hit home for me. Training is practice for delivering an exceptional customer experience. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. If we don’t train, how can we expect to get better?

3. Be the example

First and foremost, leadership must set an example. They should be role models for everyone to aspire to imitate. A quick story to illustrate this point: 

Years ago, when Walt Disney was still managing Disney properties, he would walk through the park, and when he saw a piece of paper or trash, he’d bend over to pick it up. He knew that other people were watching him. “He called this ‘stooping to excellence’ because his concept was that if he did not stoop down to pick up the piece of paper, then he was permitting everyone else to ignore it too,”

4. Celebrate success

When it is all working, let your employees know. Celebrate the success! It can be a note to an individual or a recognition of the entire company. What gets rewarded and reinforced becomes part of the company’s culture. The internal culture of a company is the secret to delivering amazing customer service. 

To consistently deliver great customer service, companies must start from the inside out by doing everything in their power to deliver a great experience to our coworkers—those important internal customers—with every interaction. That means showing appreciation, responding to emails and messages promptly, and making sure we all have everything we need to do our jobs. 

When that happens, you’re on your way to building a culture that customers and employees are clamoring to be part of.

Jason is a Partner and the CEO at Revel, a B2B marketing agency. He is a diehard baseball fan who loves his Detroit Tigers. Family vacations often revolve around seeing games in different MLB ballparks around the country – they’ve been to 21 so far and counting. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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