Strategy & Leadership

The Key to Stellar Customer Service? Look Around You: Q&A With Shep Hyken

Providing top-notch customer service is so much easier said than done. Field service companies spend years building loyal customer relationships and trying to perfect the art of superior service. Shep Hyken, customer service guru and author of The Amazement Revolution and The Loyal Customer, offers this insight into superior service: focus on employees. If your field service operation is centered on the wellbeing of your staff, Hyken explains below, then great customer service will follow.

Where can field service companies looking to improve their customer service start?

The first thing a company should do is recognize the need to be employee-centric. Start looking at employees and treating them in a manner that you want the customer treated. Set the tone for what the behavior expectation is. Almost any service techniques you would use for your outside customers apply to “inside customers” as well — courtesy, respect, being on time, doing what you promise to do, being accountable, exceeding expectations and saying “please” and “thank you.”

You’re a big believer in the power of a company mission statement. How can a company create one that resonates?

Make it simple. You shouldn’t have a mission statement that’s a page-and-a-half long — or even two paragraphs long. Think about the Ritz Carlton credo created by Horst Schulze: “We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” One line summed it up. After creating a vision, practice it internally and make sure employees understand what it means. At the Ritz Carlton, employees not only understand it, but they carry it on a laminated card in their pocket. Put it to the test: is it simple enough for everybody to memorize?

Got it. Short and simple. What happens then?

Once employees understand the mission of the company, they’re in alignment and then everybody’s on the same page. When employees take ownership of the company’s mission, that’s when you’re operating as a customer-centric organization. Customer service is owned by every employee; they understand what they’re aiming for, and they’re delivering it consistently.

What can senior executives do to show employees that they’re top priority?

Interacting with employees shows that managers care. Years ago, Tom Peters, a management guru, coined the phrase “management by walking around.” At a lot of companies, if the manager comes out of the office, people are nervous because they think somebody must have done something wrong. Why not have managers walking around all of the time? Have them actually see what people are doing and make them feel rally comfortable about interacting with managers. So when the manager does come out of the office, employees are not nervous. Instead they’re thinking, “We’re going to have another great conversation.” Sure, sometimes managers appear because of a disciplinary issue and not because they’re looking for some casual interaction. But it’s important to create a community within your organization and to be accessible.

Can you cite a business leader today who does “management by walking around” really well?

Tony Hsieh, the CEO of a billion-dollar company, Zappos.com, has his office in a cubicle in the middle of the entire floor. You’ve got marketing on one side, accounting on another side, and he’s in a cubicle. They call it “Monkey Row” because all of the executives sit in their cubicles in a row right in front of everybody else. What’s the message? “I’m accessible. I’m one of you. I’m here to see what’s going on. I’m totally engaged.” That’s a pretty good message.

Want to run a better service organization?

Sign up to get the latest Field Service Digital news delivered to your inbox. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!