Customer service is a key point of differentiation for companies, especially in the social media age where negative interactions are immediately posted for the world to see and can even go viral. However, despite the seeming proliferation of companies getting it wrong, Australian customer service staff are highly invested on a personal level in delivering great customer service because they find it personally satisfying.

Recent Qualtrics research confirmed that companies could improve their customer service performance by making it personal for workers. By providing more feedback and recognition to customer service staff, companies can reward and encourage behaviour that leads to excellent customer outcomes. Harnessing that innate desire to please customers could be as simple as recognising and rewarding those workers.

The research showed that 88% of customer service workers go out of their way, either all the time or most of the time, to give customers a good experience. Only 12% do so because it affects their compensation; 80% do it because it’s personally satisfying.

Encouragingly, most customer service workers deliver great service even when their bosses won’t find out about it, simply because it makes them feel good.

However, only 68% of respondents said customers have a chance to provide ratings feedback about their performance. For employees who do get customer reviews, more than three-quarters care a great deal about the reviews and only 3% don’t care at all.

This demonstrates the value of feedback. These customer service workers will deliver the best experience possible no matter what but, when they get feedback, they feel more valued and appreciated. This creates a virtuous circle whereby these employees are even more motivated to exceed expectations.

Organisations that can capture and communicate feedback achieve a double benefit. For customers, it shows that the company cares about the quality of their experience. For employees, it shows that their efforts have been noticed and appreciated.

Unfortunately, many companies are relying solely on the goodwill and continued motivation of their employees to ensure customers have a good experience, with only 41% of survey respondents saying their employer rewards them for helping to deliver a good experience. This could be a wasted opportunity to improve customer experience levels even further.

There are five steps every organisation can take immediately to drive customer experience improvement through their people:

  1. Hire employees who are naturally customer-obsessed.

    Hiring people who share the company’s customer-centricity is an important first step in providing exceptional customer service. Hire for the right attitude and mindset and ensure that employees’ expectations are met through the entire employee life cycle.

  2. Ask for customer feedback.

    Only 3% of respondents didn’t care about customer feedback. The remaining 97% want to know what customers think. Getting feedback helps employees feel engaged and energised and helps them learn how to improve.

  3. Recognise good performance.

    Of those who don’t care what customers think, 21% said it was because they wouldn’t be recognised for good performance anyway. This suggests that if these companies did recognise employees’ contributions, they could see a performance improvement.

  4. Organise teams around the customer experience.

    Enabling functional teams to collaborate and innovate the key experiences the organisation provides to customers requires that they are no longer operating in their silos.

  5. Leverage employee feedback in customer experience improvement.

    Your people are a good source of inspiration for ideas of how to change the customer experience. Seek their involvement and input and empower them to be accountable for change.

Regardless of how good a company’s customer service is now, there are areas that can be improved, even if only incrementally, to deliver an even better experience. That incremental change could be the difference between retaining a valuable customer or seeing them go to a competitor.