Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tip # 212: Make Customer Satisfaction a Cultural Attribute of Your Business

Customer service specialists for L.L. Bean, Inc., an outdoor retailer widely recognized for their exceptional customer service, led an educational session on the subject of customer service during RCI’s Fall Regional Conference in Portland, Maine in 2015. Liza Gerry and Valerie Marshall, who each have nearly thirty years of experience leading customer service initiatives at L.L. Bean, shared five tips to make customer satisfaction a cultural attribute of your business. 

BONUS: We’ve added specific ways you, as a retail confectioner, can apply each tip to your sweet business.

Top Five Customer Service Tips

  1. Empower employees to do the right thing – Develop a service culture where your employees feel they are brand ambassadors, who have as much confidence in your brand as your most loyal customers.

    How do I apply this to my business? To create your own brand personality, think about what cultural attributes are most important to you and your business. Offer 3-5 characteristics for your staff to focus on and share examples of how these attributes can help them address customer service in a way that best reflects your brand.

    Print reminder cards, like the one below, and post them in visible areas such as the break room, in the restroom and near the cash register. Provide extra copies for staff to place in their private workspaces.
  1. Invest in training and communicationsNever assume your team shares the same viewpoints on customer service as you do. Each member of your team brings their own unique personality and experience, which are like puzzle pieces that make up your company culture.

    How do I apply this to my business? Clear expectations for customer service should be a key element of your employee training, just as important as dress codes and safety policies.

    Additionally, ongoing communication is vital to remind staff of the company’s customer service policy. Share tips on how to achieve customer satisfaction through regular team huddles, a private Facebook group for staff or by printing newsletter-style handouts.
  1. Let customers define “good service” –  According to L.L. Bean’s President and CEO, Chris McCormick, “you can’t tell customers, ‘you will be satisfied’ – they need to arrive at that conclusion on their own through the service experience itself.” 
How do I apply this to my business? Provide opportunities for customers to share their feedback on your service through a social media site or an email survey. Even if the feedback is negative, it gives you the opportunity to make improvements and lets your customers know you value them.

  1. Offer a consistent, high-quality experience before, during and after their purchase across all channels to show you’re engaged with them throughout their journey. 
How do I apply this to my business? To ensure you are consistently offering the best customer experience, play the role of a consumer regularly, both in-store and online. This will help you identify areas where improvements are needed.

  1. Guarantee 100% customer satisfaction – Satisfied customers make repeat customers.

L.L. Bean’s 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is the pinnacle of their customer service efforts and appears on their website, in their catalogs, in their stores and on every single receipt. While this guarantee serves their customers very well, according to Liza it serves L.L. Bean very well by making their customers the best “vocal champions” of their customer service. Clearly, making this worth standing behind.

How do I apply this to my business? What guarantee could you offer that would ensure your customers are 100% satisfied with your product or service. Consider offering a freshness guarantee. Clearly define what it means to be “fresh” and include a made-by date on each package. This gives customers the confidence that they are getting fresh products with every purchase and it gives you the opportunity to talk about it a lot.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

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