Does your service team have a strong culture?
If you hesitated while answering this question, you’re not alone.
Upmarket facilities might make your team more comfortable, but they won’t help you develop great service culture. Culture can only be created by people.
You build good team culture by promoting collaboration, knowledge sharing, transparent communication and meaningful interpersonal connections – and by adopting an unified vision, beliefs and goals.
Promoting team engagement, rather than individual achievement, creates a team that learns together and treats its members with respect.
You also can’t build good team culture without effective leadership. Management that understands how happy and engaged employees lead to happy customers makes a world of difference. Fostering a leadership style that creates the conditions for your team to succeed, means your customers become winners.
Here are five ideas to promote a healthy service team culture:
- Make sure staff know the reason the organisation exists and its vision, mission and values
Identify and define your team’s culture. Talk to your team about why the business was created and brainstorm the vision, mission and values of the organisation. It’s important not to do too much telling here. Encourage team members to share their ideas and contribute to the discussion. Look for agreement, not difference, and listen with intent to what they’re saying.
Ask staff to describe the ways they communicate with customers. How do they explain equipment or service problems to them and how do they describe the manner they’re going to resolve these problems? A well-motivated staff member who feels their views are taken seriously by management will become a source of ideas and initiatives.
- Examine the effect of incentive programs on the field services team
Writing in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), Alfie Kohn argues that dozens of studies over the past three decades have shown how “people who expect to receive a reward for completing a task ... simply do not perform as well as those who expect no reward at all”.
The takeaway from this HBR article is that “rewards buy temporary compliance”, but no long-term change. It also contends that incentive programs can damage a team’s morale. Rewards over time have a punitive effect because they’re manipulative, he says, and nobody likes to be controlled.
Asking staff to compete for rewards can fracture team coherence and undermine cooperation. If you’re going to use an incentive program, construct it carefully to ensure it doesn’t have the potential to damage your team.
- Talking about customers when they’re not there
We often talk about effective communication with customers, but how we speak about our customers when they’re absent is just as important.
Think of it like this. The conversations that take place within the team about customers’ needs and expectations reflect and help shape the customer service ethos of your organisation. Whether the customer is within earshot or not it doesn’t matter.
Good customer experience always involves consistency and respect and if team members feel it’s okay to complain about a customer during or after the job is completed, this sets a dangerous precedent.
Establish an understanding within your team that complaining or speaking negatively about customers is unacceptable under any circumstances. At the same time, ensure a formal process exists for notifying management if something serious occurs with a customer that you should know about.
- Aim for transparent leadership that fosters open communication
Do your team members feel safe asking for support, openly discussing potential problems and escalating customer problems?
When leaders become more transparent to their staff, loyalty will develop. Sharing business information helps the team feel involved and enfranchised in the organisation. They feel that the employer trusts them and is going to look after their needs.
One of the most powerful ways to embed strong leadership is to communicate face-to-face when possible. Instead of sending out a team email, gather the team together to tell them news, and invite their responses and questions. If face-to-face isn’t possible use a video conferencing program, such as Zoom.
- Ask your customers for feedback
Feedback from your customers, both positive and negative, is like gold. As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
A recent HubSpot report confirmed that the most common source of new leads are referrals, so customer feedback is essential to your organisation’s growth.
Take time to personalise your requests for feedback from customers and be specific about individual performance. If you receive bad feedback, always follow it up with the customer.
Also talk to your customers in person, if possible, about their experience with your organisation. When you receive positive feedback, make sure you celebrate it with your team. When negative feedback is received, huddle with your team to discuss what went wrong and how problems can be resolved.
Let’s sum up why good culture is so important.
- Teams with positive cultures thrive, they invest in the outcomes and strive to achieve goals together.
- Your field service team is the face of the organisation and where there’s a positive team culture, customers will see a happy employee.
- Customers do not form relationships with equipment, they form relationships with service teams. A strong service team culture creates engaged customers.
What’s the point?
- Happy engaged customers are loyal and they purchase more services.
- Delighted customers have a high lifetime value.
- It’s cheaper to retain customers than it is to find new ones.
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