Belated Happy Customer Service Week!
How did you celebrate the week?
Now, in case you’ve been living under a rock and have no idea what we are talking about, I’ll be nice and enlighten you…
The first week of October was Customer Service Week. Businesses around the world took that opportunity to celebrate and show their heartfelt appreciation to their customers.
(So if you were probably wondering why business owners were offering you muffins all week, now you know…)
The good thing about customer service week is that it is not only about the external customer. It is equally about the internal customers, aka, your employees.
If the external customer is King, the internal customer is the chariot that brings in the King. Keep that chariot well-polished, repaired and functional, and you will hear angels singing in heaven!
In a nutshell, employees are superheroes sans capes. The Champions of your brand. The unsung heroes who should be celebrated just like external customers.
We’ll look at some quick sure-fire ways (in no particular order) to keep these champions happy then I’ll share with you a lesson that I learned from the 2009 New York marathon so stay with me:
1. Involve them in the vision:
Make sure that all employees are aware of what the company hopes to accomplish. Some businesses go to the extent of posting their vision statement in strategic places throughout the organization. It is a good constant reminder of why they set the alarm clock in the first place…
2. Have a clear promotion path:
No one likes to be stuck in the same position year on out. Make it clear as to what will get them from where they are today to the next level.
3. Be fair:
Nothing kills morale as much as feeling unfairly treated.
4. Celebrate milestones:
Milestones can be as tiny as meeting a small target. This makes the employees feel valued and appreciated.
5. Praise in public, reprimand in private:
Yes, just as there will be milestones to be celebrated, there will be moments when employees will need correcting. Correct when you have to but do it away from the public eye.
6. Make the office employee-friendly:
Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and even personal achievements. Remember, in today’s fast-paced world, we spend more time in the office than with our families.
7. It’s never that serious! Make them laugh a little bit:
Office environments can be pretty tense. What with missed deadlines, complaining customers, and even petty office politics? Through it all, try to see the funny side.
8. Build relationships:
Retaining employees is all about building relationships so Know Your (internal) Customers (KYC). This will help you personalize your emails and conversations.
Remember significant things about your employees, appreciate their personal achievements and always, always say thank you.
10. Follow up on issues.
11. Answer questions.
As you build your business, have a, “No employee left behind” policy and foster an, “We are all in this together” atmosphere.
This will be a win-win for the employees and the organization as was demonstrated in the New York 2009 marathon that I mentioned earlier.
This is how it went down…
The day was a cold New York November morning. In that race was one Paula Radcliff. Paula had promised her fans, and indeed the world, that that was going to be the day when she’d break her long-standing world record of 2 hours 15 mins and 25 seconds.
However, as the elite runners got to the 30th kilometer, it was evident that Paula was in trouble. She was slowing down. Seeing this as an opportunity to get first place podium finish, the other elite runners ran passed Paula.
But not one Derartu Tulu.
Derartu Tulu was an Ethiopian runner who was trying to make a comeback after a long break following the birth of her last baby which had resulted in a near death experience. Instead of taking advantage of the situation and running past Paula, she slowed down and could be seen egging Paula not to give up!
Soon, the two were on their way, running side by side.
But at the 35th km, it was evident that Paula was once again struggling. Once again, instead of taking advantage of the situation, Derartu slowed down to encourage Paula.
The question on everyone’s mind was; why would Derartu, who badly needed the prize money, slow down to encourage her biggest competitor?
The answer was simple; Derartu hailed from a small close knit village where they believed that one does not leave someone else struggling by the roadside. In an interview with reporters later, she said that helping Paula meant more to her then winning the race.
Well, if you are wondering how the race finally played out, to everyone’s amazement, Derartu Tulu went on to take first place in the women’s elite category in the 2009 New York marathon!
And that’s not all. Upon completion, Derartu did not go the reporters’ desk as is customary with marathon winners. Instead, she stood at the finish line and waited for fourth place finisher, Paula Radcliff. And as Paula crossed the finish line, she collapsed in Derartu’s arms.
Why am I telling you this story? Because to me, it speaks volumes of the importance of encouraging each other. The importance of being a part of someone else’s journey especially when you know that it means a lot to them.
Employers should not be so focused on the business that they fail to see their employees struggling by the roadside. Instead, like Derartu, they should be encouraging their struggling employees and waiting for them at the finish line to celebrate together.
It’s all about putting Humans before Profits.
Always remember, you are all in the rat race together. Keep your employees happy, and they will make the best salespeople. Salespeople who know how to handle difficult situations and who will ultimately turn your customers into evangelists. (Customers who sing nothing but praises for your brand).
Just like the legendary Hollywood actor Jack Lemon once said, “No matter how successful you get, always remember to send the elevator back down.” So as your business grows, remember to send the elevator back for your employees. So you can stand at the finish line to celebrate your accomplishments and more…