When the phone system went down at Rackspace, a few support analysts immediately sprang into action and tweeted their personal phone numbers. These support analysts spent the next four hours providing technical support via Twitter and their cell phones. Nobody asked them to do this. It wasn't part of a written procedure. They didn't even ask permission. They just did it.
Jeff is presenting How to Get Your Support Team Obsessed with Service at the HDI 2017 Conference & Expo in Washington, DC, in May.
What's the secret to getting support teams so obsessed with service that they'd take their own initiative to go to such extraordinary lengths? Here are three things Rackspace and other customer-focused companies do to get their employees to buy-in.
Step 1: Create a Customer Service Vision
The first step is to help your team develop a customer service vision. This is a shared definition of outstanding service that points everyone in the same direction. It creates a compelling purpose for employees to get behind when they come to work each day.
Here's an excerpt from the customer service vision at Rackspace, called the Fanatical Support Promise:
We cannot promise that hardware won't break, that software won't fail, or that we will always be perfect. What we can promise is that if something goes wrong we will rise to the occasion, take action, and help resolve the issue.
A good customer service vision should have three characteristics:
- It's simple and easy to understand.
- It's focused on customers.
- It reflects both who you are now and who you aspire to be in the future.
You can use this worksheet to create a customer service vision for your own team.
Step 2: Engage Your Support Team
A customer service vision is only useful if your support team uses it to guide their daily actions.
One client I worked with had a very compelling customer service vision, but managers never discussed it with their teams. As a result, analysts were aware of the vision but weren't clear on what it meant or how it was relevant to them. To the analysts, the customer service vision was nothing more than a poster on the wall.
Leaders at customer-obsessed organizations talk about the vision on a regular basis. The aim of these ongoing discussions is to ensure every member of the team can answer three questions:
- What is the customer service vision?
- What does it mean?
- How is it relevant to me?
Leaders at customer-obsessed organizations talk about the vision on a regular basis.
At Rackspace, support analysts are part of values committees to help guide the culture. Analysts are called "Rackers" in reference to the organization's unique identity. There's even an internal recognition program to highlight Rackers who go above and beyond to provide Fanatical Support.
Step 3: Use the Vision as a Strategic Compass
The most powerful way to get your team obsessed with service is to use your customer service vision as a strategic compass. This helps you align every facet of your organization with the vision. You can use the vision as a guide when:
- Setting goals
- Hiring analysts
- Training new hires
- Empowering analysts
- Managing performance
Perhaps the biggest thing you can do to use the vision as your guide is set a strong leadership example. Make sure that your support analysts know that the customer service vision is the priority.
For example, one support team created a vision to leave customers better off at the end of the call than they were at the beginning. They used this vision to spot opportunities to anticipate additional issues and resolve them on the same call to prevent future call-backs. This effort worked so well that the team was able to cut their average peak daily phone queue in half within just 30 days.
And Rackspace? Rob La Gesse, Rackspace's then Vice President of Social Strategy, led by example too. He shared his personal phone number on Twitter four years before support analysts did the same thing.
There's a hidden danger here since these concepts may seem deceptively simple. Many support teams have tried bits and pieces of these same three steps:
- Create a vision
- Try to engage employees
- Use the vision as a compass
The true difference is execution. Support leaders whose teams are obsessed with service are fully committed to this process.
It's not just a short-term project. It's a long-term way of thinking that's become how these teams do business every day.
Jeff Toister is President of
Toister Performance Solutions, Inc.
and the author of
The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service (April 2017). In addition, he has authored several training videos on Lynda.com, including “Customer Service Fundamentals,” “Working with Upset Customers,” and “Leading a Customer-Centric Culture.” Jeff has been recognized as a Top 50 Contact Center Thought Leader by ICMI and a Top 100 Customer Success Leader by MindTouch. Follow Jeff on Twitter @Toister.