As your business grows, keep service at its heart

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October 06, 2014

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#ServiceFirst

This is a challenge for every growing business. You live, sleep and breathe the company, what you do and the service you deliver. Do your employees? Instilling the same passion is hard, but leading by example is the first step. Set the expectations and ensure they are met.

Keep it real

Managers who keep the ‘bread and butter’ of the business on their radar are those who keep in touch with reality – the jobs lists, timelines, pressures of areas other than their own, dealings on the ‘frontline’, and customer-facing responsibilities. Channel 4 series Undercover Boss demonstrates the importance of a ‘big boss’ who understands the actuality of business processes further down the line. The series opened the eyes of many a founder and CEO, in pursuit to ensure their business was offering excellent service through the ranks. Let this guide you in order to keep service at the heart. Ensuring quality by hiring the right people is a valuable practice – how do you expect to meet customers’ needs through poor service offered by unmotivated staff? Glenn Jackson, Managing Director of Moneypenny, endeavours to interview all candidates to ensure the quality of all new staff. Getting this right from the start avoids time wasting – time that could be spent on excellent service.

Service at the centre

Naturally, you grow with your business – the highs, the challenges and the curveballs. With all that distraction, and gradual change overtime, the focus on customer service can shift. But customer service should be woven into all aspects of a company – from the development process to the point of sale. Npower’s recent service shame is an example of how service was miles off-centre. According to consumer group Which?, the energy supplier dropped to 100th place in the annual customer service rankings for the UK’s 100 biggest brands. Not surprisingly, Lakeland, Lush and John Lewis all remained among the top-rated brands for their customer service efforts. These brands are instantly recognised for their excellent service – it is at the heart of what they do.

Share the service

John Lewis’ take on customer service is about staff spreading it to customers while sharing and ‘owning’ it. Not one of the 70,000 John Lewis staff is known as an employee – they’re all known as ‘partners’, who together own the business (hence the ‘John Lewis Partnership’). Employees receive a profit share based on how much revenue is generated, so they all feel really involved and incentivised – incentivised to offer outstanding service.

Someone who knows a thing or two about customer service is Jon Williams, Moneypenny’s Client Support Manager, who firmly believes in treating people as he would like to be treated:

“There really is no excuse for poor service; it costs nothing to give, and doesn’t take time or additional resource to be polite and friendly.

“At Moneypenny, we believe in empowering people to make their own decisions and staff are encouraged to use their judgment in situations. If people don’t ‘own’ the process then this can lead to complacency and complacency leads to mediocrity. Nobody likes settling for mediocre.”