We’re currently in the middle of a reboot of our church staff guest services training. That’s not just training the people who are in charge of first impressions at a campus level…that’s everyone who leads anyone who parks cars, rocks babies, writes curriculum, leads small groups, manages spreadsheets, answers phones, or cleans facilities. (In other words, that’s our entire staff team. And I’ll write more on that reboot in a future post.)
I found Jeff Toister’s The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service to be a helpful tool in the midst of the reboot. True, Jeff is writing primarily to businesses, but many of the principles he lays out are transferable whether you’re making widgets or making disciples (if the terminology bugs you, just sub in guest for customer. After all, Jeff’s focus is people, and people are the mission of the church.
Here are my top ten favorite quotes from the book (these are a little longer than my normal top ten quotes, so buckle up):
- A book or seminar will not change your culture. It can inspire you. It can give you ideas. But you still have to put in the work to bring your own organization’s unique customer-focused culture to life.
- Some organizations resist creating a customer service vision because they think of it as a lot of marketing fluff. For example, one company created a vision statement that was so long it literally covered the entire wall of their lobby. It was full of impressive-sounding adjectives, but it was also impossible to decipher. Employees snicker at attempts like this that feel inauthentic.
- Outstanding customer service at a retail store that sells outdoor gear isn’t the same as that provided by a fast casual restaurant, a grocery store, or a windshield repair company. There isn’t one customer service vision that’s right for every organization. You need something unique to your organization.
- A cultural artifact is any statement, symbol, or physical item that helps define an organization’s culture. A challenge occurs when an organization has multiple cultural artifacts that don’t provide a single direction.
- Employees are less likely to go the extra mile to serve a customer when they aren’t committed to their organization’s success. And talented people are more likely to leave a company when they don’t feel passionate about the culture.
- Engaged employees will only stay engaged if they perceive their company truly believes in the customer service vision.
- New employees in many companies are given little to no customer service training, so they can’t possibly know how to fit in with the company culture or live up to the customer service vision. Processes are frequently designed to control and standardize behavior rather than empowering employees to delight their customers. And leaders in many companies spend shockingly little time coaching and training their teams to reinforce the customer service culture.
- When employees aren’t trained on their company’s customer service culture, employees can’t consciously use the culture to guide their actions. Furthermore, individual employees, different departments, and various company locations are likely to develop their own interpretations of the customer service philosophy that might or might not complement one another.
- Leaders in customer-focused companies realize that employees look to them to set a positive example. They model the culture in their daily activities, so people understand that any executive pronouncements about culture are more than just lip service.
- Some leaders are afraid to publicly demonstrate their commitment to the culture. One company president was so uncomfortable interacting with front-line employees and customers that he went to great lengths to avoid both groups…This president’s aloofness sent the message that he considered himself too important to speak to frontline employees, which undermined his desire for employees to provide warm and friendly service.
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