Take a minute to think about your three favorite stores. Chances are, you’ve been shopping at the same spots for years. You might even know the owners by name and have referred friends who’ve turned into long-term customers themselves. If this sounds familiar, you are, as Steve Curtain describes, “a customer who creates customers.”
But as a business owner yourself, how do you find these people? The answer lies in the attitudes of your customer service employees, says Curtain, author of the upcoming book (out in June) Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary.
Identifying job essence
In researching his book, Curtain sat down with several customer service employees to ask them the question, “What does your job entail?” Most responses sounded like they were read off of an online job description: to answer calls, transfer calls, retrieve account information, etc.
“Rarely did employees refer to actions and behaviors pertaining to job essence, which is creating promoters to your company—people who will spread positive word of mouth,” he says. “They can do this by seeing service as a verb, as something they have to work on and cultivate every day.”
Service as a verb
Employees who focus exclusively on the transactional part of their jobs (how many calls executed in an hour, sales leads brought in per quarter or month) can make customers feel devalued. In order to change this dynamic, Curtain recommends business owners train customer service employees to emotionally cultivate each customer. This can be accomplished by expressing genuine interest in the customer (knowing/learning their name), sharing unique knowledge that cannot be found on a company’s website or inside a brochure, and conveying authentic enthusiasm or energy in their voice.
“Think of service as a verb, just like love is a verb in a committed relationship,” Curtain says. “Being in a relationship with someone requires you to be interested, to care and to do things that make the other person feel appreciated. It is the same with customer service. Instead of looking at a customer service role as just practical, empower your employees to think of what they do as a journey and something to cultivate every day.
“Companies that do this tend to attract more business opportunities and create customers who go out and create more customers.”