Skills and Characteristics of a Customer-Focused Team
How do you create customer loyalty? In the past, companies have tried to do it by cutting prices and creative gimmicks, but what almost every industry has learned is that you do it by building a relationship with a customer built on a great experience with your company.
It's not enough to do this by only having a Customer Care department; a great customer experience is built from the ground up. And, it's done by focusing on both soft and hard skillsets. You want your employees to be able to answer questions about specific products, but it's important to remember that it's easier to teach someone information than it is to teach them how to have a great attitude.
When Hytrol is hiring, we look at these 5 characteristics that are indicative of a customer-centered mindset:
Professionalism: This can be a difficult soft skill to define, but for us, it means that you're dependable, that you have a strong work ethic and are willing to invest time to do the job even better. Professionalism demonstrates that you follow best practices of the company and industry you're a part of.
Positive Attitude: To create a great customer experience, you need a can-do attitude and you must be pleasant to work with. A positive attitude means an employee is more apt to go above and beyond the call of duty. Knowledge: Again, knowledge can change based on the industry in which it is applied. In a workplace that is always changing, like material handling, our knowledgebase needs to be as up to date as humanly possible. To have that knowledge and to seek more knowledge is imperative to creating the best possible relationship and solution for the customer.
Active Listening: Does the customer feel heard? If not, there's a problem, and it's probably this soft skill. Active listening means listening to understand--not to get defensive or to respond. We're here to help, and the first step to helping is understanding the problem.
Taking Initiative: All of the above tie into this. Material handling is always changing, always adapting and always excelling, and to do that you should have team members who are willing to do the same.
In addition to these soft skills, it's important to specifically focus on skills that your team is more in need of. For instance, do you need someone who knows the ins and outs of gravity conveyor, or someone whose expertise is in software solutions? Take a look at the skills your team needs the most, and hire and train for those weak spots.
Training skillsets and building a culture
This is common knowledge. Your employees will be connecting through email, phone and chat, and should be trained on etiquette for each. Even something as simple as what to say when answering the phone can make a big difference in the experience the customer has with your company.
Employees should spend time in training sessions and in the manufacturing facility to gain knowledge across the product lines, and to be able to answer basic questions about each line. They should also have more in-depth expertise about specific products so that they can answer complicated questions or know where to find the answers.
The Golden Rule is to treat others the way you would want to be treated, but in Customer Care, we need to treat customers the way they want to be treated. This means we need to listen, anticipate needs, meet expectations, address & correct issues and communicate. We do this by creating a customer-centric culture and creating goals everyone can work toward using metrics.
At Hytrol, each team is more than just the sum of its members. We take that team to a higher level, which we call family. By sharing each other's expertise, building relationships internally &externally and building a customer-centric culture, we allow team members to grow and learn from one another. We seek to build relationships that lead to customers for life, and that's exactly what a customer-centered Customer Care department is all about.
About the Author:
Tony Sartin is the Customer Care Manager at Hytrol. He has over 27 years of experience with the company and has been involved in many customer-centric initiatives throughout the years, including the Lean manufacturing transition and the development of Hytrol's internal training program. Tony's unique blend of customer-focused enthusiasm and extensive manufacturing knowledge is the driving force behind the team of support experts within Customer Care.