Your brand’s values form the pillars on which it is built. They should be embedded and visible in everything you do. That includes customer service. We know customer service representatives sometimes get a bad rep but the reality is that this can be a thankless job. However as the customer service rep is your first contact point for many of your customers, it is important that your CS team have the tools to solve issues and represent your brand well.
However, there is often a breakdown here. Customer service representatives do not always embody those values, which drives negative customer interactions, reduced satisfaction levels, increased complaints and escalations, and other problems. The solution is to instill your values in your customer service reps, but that is easier said than done. In this article, we will explore how to go about ensuring that your customer service team not only understands those values but lives them within every customer interaction.
Hire Customer Service Representatives with Culture in Mind
One reason that brand values may not “click” with some of your employees is that they simply don’t resonate with them. Not everyone shares the same values. Some people really think that “it’s all about looking out for number one”. Many people lack the serving mindset that’s required to be a great customer service representative.
To get around that issue, hire with the culture you want to develop in mind. The customer service department is the wrong place for the type of profit-driven behavior often seen with sales teams (it can be argued that sales teams don’t benefit from that behavior either, but that’s a different conversation). Start with the culture that you want to see and maintain within the customer service department and then hire people who already fit that mold.
Bake Your Values into Your Training
No matter whether you’re hiring a seasoned veteran of the customer service space or someone who only has a brief acquaintance with it, training is vital. This is your opportunity to break bad habits or prevent them from being formed in the first place. It is also your chance to start instilling the values you want to see in your team. To do that, follow these brief tips:
- Clear – Your values should be clearly and unambiguously stated. Everyone must understand them, whatever they might be. Use clear, accessible language that everyone can understand. This flies directly in the face of corporate wordsmithing, which usually leaves you with vacuous statements devoid of anything actually resembling meaning or value.
- Connect – Connect the values you want to instill with specific operating principles that you expect your customer service team to use every day. For instance, assume that one of your core values is communication. You could connect that with a specific operating principle such as the following: “We believe that everyone within the organization has something valuable to say. We actively listen to feedback on anything that you feel might be able to be improved or changed.”
- Commit – Make your values things that your customer service team (and other employees) must commit to. Whether we’re talking about transparency and communication or integrity and fairness, accountability, or continual learning, those need to be things that team members commit to and showcase in their behavior. Tie that commitment to their continued employment, as well. Make it clear from the outset that values matter and that if the employee cannot or will not live by them, they should probably look elsewhere.
- Communicate – How often do you communicate your values to team members? If you’ve printed them up, laminated them, and then posted them on a wall somewhere, that might be all you think is necessary. It’s not. You need to regularly communicate values and related topics to your team so that they understand just how seriously you take them.
As a side note, if you’re not using a modern learning management system, your training efforts will likely not deliver the results you need to see. Cloud-based platforms like eLeaP offer the experience today’s learners expect. In addition to flexible delivery, the mobile-friendly experience means that learners can complete training on the go or even at home.
Make Sure Your Values Are Right
This ties into something we touched on previously – namely, corporate wordsmithing can take what might have once been understandable values and turns them into something that no one understands, much less can live by. We recommended that you keep your values clearly understandable and stated in accessible language. You must do one more thing here: make sure that you have the right values in the first place.
It’s tempting to think that “values are values”. After all, you’re stating that you stand for something, right? It is not quite that simple.
When it comes to customer service representatives, some of their most important values include the following:
- Customer first
You’ll find that many of these values build upon or spring from one another. For instance, with a customer-first mindset, your customer service team is automatically more loyal and respectful. With empathy, authenticity is possible. With accountability, communication is more direct and accurate. Each builds on the others, creating a team capable of not just delivering a good experience, but of forging strong, lasting relationships between customers and your brand.
Create Customer Experience Ambassadors
Every customer service team has members that shine. These are the people who really get it, who live and breathe the customer service experience. Make them your ambassadors to other team members. This can work in many different ways, but one is to have the ambassador think from the customers’ perspective when it comes to interactions, challenges, and processes.
Are there breakdowns that relate to brand values? What are they? Go deeper with your ambassador assignments, too. Rotate through your team members and have each take a turn at being an ambassador for a week to build understanding from your customers’ point of view.
Build Values, Build the Team
When you take the time to instill brand values in your customer service representatives, you know that they are not just representing your company correctly, but delivering the right customer experience. Of course, instilling those values requires time and specific action – train your reps, hire with the right culture in mind, and make sure you’re instilling the right values in the first place.