The First Element of Great Customer Service: Your People


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Back in November we published what turned out to be a rather popular blog entry: The Three Basic Elements of Customer Support. I want to flesh each of these elements out this week with some tips on optimizing each element.

First Element: People

“[P]eople that are right for your company and have an interest in making your customer happy are the right people to have… working with the customer. A customer can tell whether your employees are smiling or not, even over the phone. If your people are happy, ultimately your customers will be happy. It is amazing to me how true happiness and excitement can make a customer happy to be part of a winning team. A positive attitude is infectious so start an epidemic by hiring happy people.”

Making employees happy seems to be what this paragraph is saying but in reality it is a statement about hiring practices. Not everyone is cut out to give great customer service although some of it can be taught. You need to find a way to identify those who will succeed in the role which ultimately makes them…..happy.

According to *randstad the first thing to identify is the type of culture ingrained in your company. Some examples from authors Terrance Deal and Allan Kennedy include:

  • All Hands On Deck
    • Focus: Working together to get things done
    • Everyone works as a team regardless of title or position
  • Process
    • Focus: Procedures and bureaucracy
    • Data, grids, and forms are at the forefront and the culture lacks creativity
  • Work Hard/Play Hard
    • Focus: Fun and action
    • Employees take pride in quality of work but like to have fun with co-workers
  • Tough-Guy, Macho
    • Focus: Get the job done
    • People expected to know what they are doing and do it, little supervision. Lots of feedback and constructive criticism.

Maybe your company is a mix of one or more, or it doesn’t resemble any of these, but this list can get you started. And unless you are a one-person shop, make sure you get feedback from your current employees and customers about what the culture feels like to them.

Now you have some guidance on the types of questions and scenarios to go through with prospective employees. Try to drill into what each thinks so they don’t just give you a well rehearsed answer found on an interviewing website. This is your company. You need the people who will make it successful.

Once hired, there are three very important things that must happen:


Nothing makes a new employee feel worse than having to say “I don’t know” or to be seen fumbling. If you can’t find a way to properly train people then be prepared for employee (and customer) churn.

Once trained, make sure to let them know how they are doing. Don’t let them get a huge surprise at their employee assessment when you roll out all the things that they’ve been doing wrong and nothing about what they have done right. Gently correct mistakes when they occur. Advise and coach with frequent quick talks and some back patting. Employees will let you know how much, how often, and what works best.

Need more in-depth information on these steps? Check out a book from the library or borrow from a friend. Check out the reviews on Amazon. Watch free on-demand webinars and search the web for information on hiring specifically for your industry. In this age of TMI, there is no shortage of help to be found.

Your people are your company. Make sure you put your company’s best face forward by hiring and retaining the right people.

*Randstad provides temporary, temporary to permanent, permanent, and outsourced placement services for local and global customers.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jody Pellerin
Jody Pellerin is the Director of Marketing for PhaseWare, Inc. a provider of customer service and support software. PhaseWare helps companies optimize customer service and support with powerful, affordable solutions for incident management, knowledge management, SLA management, and more. Pellerin has authored several white papers and case studies about customer service and support practices including using live chat, optimizing multichannel support, and a guide for on-premise versus on-demand software.


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