Helping our users deliver a superb customer service is our number one priority at Talkdesk. For this reason, we invited Robert Spector, corporate historian and customer service expert, to share what Nordstrom does differently to distinguish themselves as the models for excellent customer service. You can watch the full webinar here.
According to Spector, every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to establish a positive relationship, regardless of whether the interaction is in person, in email or over the phone. Therefore, it’s important that you hire talent who approach each point of contact and emotional connection with the customer as critical. These simple interactions have a huge impact on how people perceive your brand and can determine whether a customer is willing to continue to do business with you.
Since your employees become the face of the brand and each person has a role to play in the company’s bottom line through customer interactions, it is pivotal for companies to focus on the employee experience just as much as the customer experience. Unfortunately, most companies are too busy focusing on practices to devote enough time to developing and maintaining values.
Spector outlined five core values that every successful and enduring organization adheres to that are non-negotiable. In essence, a company’s culture should attract the right people that share these core values. Here are Spector’s five values that every successful call center manager should instill:
“When we talk about respect, we are talking about respect all across the board. First of all, you need to hire people that respect you, and you need to be respecting them. If you do not have respect for them or vice versa, that’s not going to work,” says Spector.
When respect is a foundational value in your organization, then your team of agents will respect the customers calling in, regardless of their issue, attitude or tone. You’re not just a call center, you’re an opportunity center, a solutions center, an answers center. Your call center should focus on giving the customers the respect and experience that they deserve.
As Stephen Covey put it, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
Trust holds all communications together. Trusting the people you’ve hired and fostering trust amongst your team members is pivotal for empowering your agents to engage with your customers in the best possible way. Even if you’ve made a mistake, the customer will give you the benefit of the doubt because you’ve established that trust. Making a mistake isn’t a violation of trust, rather taking care of that mistake and rectifying it enhances trust, respect and confidence in your company’s ability to take care of every customer’s needs.
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You cannot have communication without collaboration. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
It is better to over-communicate than to under-communicate. There are so many opportunities to misunderstand what a customer is trying to communicate. Take a couple extra seconds to reinterpret what the customer has said as opposed to assuming what they meant. A big part of communication is really listening to what the customer is saying rather than thinking about what you want to say next.
No success is achieved in isolation, so every company culture should be about collaboration and working together for the betterment of the entire team. A factor of collaboration is personal ownership – you want to hire customer support personnel who take on personal ownership and can take on a customer’s challenge head on.
Nordstrom’s culture manifests this value in their very brief employee handbook that contains one simple rule: “Use good judgement in all situations.” They know that their employees are smart enough to use good judgement, which is why they hired them, and empower them to take responsibility for their mistakes when they occur.
You want employees who have their head up, are aware of what’s going and can react to a situation effectively and efficiently. In the customer support business, things move at a very rapid pace and you need call center agents that are ready to take action when action is necessary. If you bring in people that have the value of awareness, they are going to be the ones showing initiative and bringing new ideas to the table. You can’t teach awareness, bring in people that already have this core value.
Loyalty is a two-way street. It’s about reducing turnover and increasing engagement once you’ve found your talented customer support representatives that you want to keep.
Elmer Nordstrom, former co-chairman of Nordstrom, said, “Some companies demand loyalty from personnel, but we felt that loyalty should first come from us to them. Loyalty is something earned, not expected.” You can’t expect your employees to be readily loyal, you have to show them loyalty in return.
Customer loyalty is the other side of the coin. Loyal customers represent a major share of any company’s revenue. For Nordstrom, 38% of their $14 billion in sales comes from customers who belong to the company’s loyalty program.
To keep customers loyal, you must provide them with value, efficiency, trust, communication and taking ownership to understand what the client’s needs are first and foremost. The sale is never over and the relationship doesn’t end after their first purchase. Cultivating, nurturing and offering great customer support are all part of fostering that relationship.
Going above and beyond the call of duty and instilling these five core values within your company’s culture are what will drive greater customer service. What are you doing in your business to engender that loyalty and make your customers feel good about continuing that relationship? What are you doing to become the Nordstrom of call centers?