How do you create a great service delivery experience for your clients? Does your company do scenario-based customer service training? Or perhaps each employee keeps a script or playbook for certain instances of service need.
Whatever your tactics, the strength of your service delivery is heavily influenced by your organization’s culture — and vice versa. How?
Great Client Experiences Depend on You Living Your Values
Whether we’re talking about a call center interaction or a long-term account management effort, creating a great experience for your clients requires your employees to know what makes an experience great. Yes, that sounds obvious. But without the guiding light of deeply embedded cultural values, “knowing” becomes disconnected from “doing.”
For example, let’s say every employee in your company has the general understanding that patience is a positive trait to exhibit when speaking to clients. If your cultural values don’t reinforce this ideal (thematically or explicitly), it can be simpler for an individual to cast aside that general sense in a moment of worry or hurry.
The actions of your employees depend on knowing beyond a general understanding.
They depend on your employees being members of a community that willingly and unwaveringly believes in what it believes in — what they and you believe in. If that community is sanctioned, fostered, and invested in meaningfully, service delivery should, by design, show the impact.
Consider this: What would you see if your organization were truly living its established values? What might be reflected in your service delivery? Is that by design? By practice? Neither?
Consider these questions from the inside, out: What actions would your employees take? From the outside, in: What feelings would your customers feel?
In a next-level team, service delivery is itself the set of actions that show the values. If your culture is your personality, then service delivery is what you share of it. If your culture is your DNA, then service delivery is the end gene product. It’s what you get from who you are.
Your Company Culture Looks Really Pretty Today
From the way your employees respond to client emails (how long they wait to write back, what words they use to sign off) to your product’s update release frequency, there are near infinite ways and places in which company culture could appear in service delivery.
Even if we were using far narrower definitions for the wide terms “service delivery” and “company culture,” the fact remains: the two are inextricably linked.
Here are some — and only some — areas of your service delivery where your shared, lived values might be clearly reflected.
Does your company have them? Are they visible, enacted, part of daily habit?
Everything about the way your employees communicate to and with those you serve should be a reflection of company culture. If your established, real values are focused on client experience, you’ll surely tick the box for having clear communication standards. Additionally, your organization should consider communication from all angles: What channels do you use? At what cadence? How do your clients know which channel is best for which type of communication?
Aside from the strategy itself, there’s the way it looks in practice. Let’s go back to the patience example: If it’s a truly embedded value, such a trait will be clear. Even on a tough call, even after 30 minutes of miscommunication, even when the client is wrongfully displeased, your employees offer solutions, structure, reassurance and constraints or boundaries. They use their tools and take things in stride.
That’s what patience looks like from the inside, out. For your customers, it probably feels like a huge relief.
Treatment of time
Your culture is evident in the way your people treat their time, their colleagues’ time and their clients’ time. No, we aren’t arguing for the widespread adoption of infallible punctuality (not here, anyway) though punctuality is, without question, a productive goal! But we are saying that your culture’s values can be clearly distinguished in the waters of your employees' efforts around time. Some key indicators you’re in business with a community of empathetic, transparent professionals: their sensitivity to others’ treatment of time, effort to match one another’s scheduling needs and commitment to clearly, proactively communicating about timelines, deadlines, agendas and schedules.
The treatment of time not only reflects your culture, but it also impacts your clients significantly. It’s a make-or-break type of “knowing” to “action” translation. Your team has to know the real value of time and understand its impact on each individual (from anyone who calls a customer service line to someone leading a project) in order to be both proactive and reactive. How can they accurately scope projects? Set expectations? Decide when is the right time to call someone back? Those actions, built from knowing, have a massive influence on your client’s satisfaction.
Product design and delivery
A third area where you’ll see your culture reflected in service delivery is in your product itself. In some ways, the creation and now existence of your product, whatever it may be, (from a toy to a customer help line to a demand generation service) reflects your company’s true North Star, in that the product is expressly your reason for being. But other facets of product design and delivery, aside from its invention, are similarly reflective — of the current values, experiences and motivations of the individuals in your organization.
For instance, if you commit additional resources to product development in times of high activity, it may reflect your commitment to employee health and product quality. If you make regular client feedback an important element of product update efforts, it reflects a desire to really listen and understand, or perhaps your organization has embraced curiosity as a mechanism for improvement.
If your web dev crew delivers an impeccable website with the strongest, most beautiful design and sleekest, most effective architecture, it’s likely because you committed to hiring brilliant minds and hard workers. Additionally, it may be a reflection of your cultural emphasis on innovation, or it may be the result of a recent process overhaul.
Whatever the case, and there are many, product quality can and does reflect cultural values and their ability to permeate through individuals’ actions and decisions.
In addition to the literal actions that reflect your company culture, there are overarching themes and sentiments that similarly contribute to a client’s experience with your brand. One such theme (and stick with us here because it’s about to get a bit meta!) is the overarching experience with your brand.
If your organization’s culture has been strengthened — hard-won, homegrown — the effect on holistic service delivery is impossible to overstate. In fact, it could be argued that a great culture is what creates holism in service delivery, the secret ingredient that takes your customers’ experience with your brand from transactional to holistic.
Without a culture code that is born from both observation and aspiration, you simply cannot purposefully create a holistic brand image for your customers. Without a guiding light to shape the course of interactions, each experience will differ in significant ways — ways that are not only due to the individual customer’s current state (of need, of feeling, etc.), but also to the individual employee responsible for delivering the service.
But with a lived set of values, the way you deliver service transcends transactions. It moves beyond moments.
The way you deliver service reflects, as it were, who your brand really is. And in so doing, if you allow it to, the way you deliver service also becomes who you are.
Karin is Content Lead at New Breed. She specializes in developing content strategy and copy at every point in the creation process, from persona design to final edits