What’s Service Got to Do With It? Everything.

Top Tips to Unlock the Secrets of Client Management, Satisfaction, and Retention as Key Elements of your Organization’s Growth

By Don Britton, Founder and CEO, Network Alliance

Customer service. Satisfaction. Enjoyment. These seem like fairly attainable goals for your company’s approach, right? But don’t be fooled into thinking “good, old-fashioned customer service” is a given. If anything, the struggle to differentiate your company and its services and retain clients in an increasingly crowded, self-service-driven market is real and coming into sharper focus every day.

So how can you ensure your clients are consistently delighted with your company and services and keep coming back for more? Surprisingly, the answer lies within your employee teams.

Over the past 20 years, Network Alliance has been “Making IT Simple” for our clients—we simplify, streamline, and take the worry and guesswork out of keeping technology systems up to date, managing infrastructures, and maximizing technological investment at all levels of a company’s growth trajectory. With a 98% client-retention rate since our founding and the successful resolution of more than 20,000 IT support requests in 2015 alone, we’ve discovered the core to building a winning customer-service promise is to start with your team, particularly through employee recognition and staff-training programs.

Your employees are the most visible aspect of your organization, and in many cases, personify your values and mission, for better or worse. It’s critically important that staff teams are engaged, satisfied, and empowered to promote top outcomes, value propositions, and results.

While the idea of engaging and empowering people may seem daunting, you can take steps to build an internal structure of support, recognition, and positivity that translates directly to your clients.

Some of these include:

  • Innovation encouragement programs – Empower employees to suggest new ideas or visions for ways your company can improve its systems and processes. They have valuable first-hand experience. One example of a recent innovation encouragement program Network Alliance implemented was the distribution of a company-wide survey, where employees were asked to provide their suggestions on areas or topics of the company’s business where they felt they needed more insight or training. The inbound feedback resulted in the development of a full-day training event for Network Alliance’s Tier 1 Service Team. The training that day was designed around areas the team most wanted to be addressed. Overall, this initiative also resulted in the empowerment of the company’s employees, who were placed ‘in the driver’s seat’ to offer their suggestions about areas for improvement, and additional engagement once it was clear they were heard and validated.
  • Empowerment and alignment with your company’s core values – Promote ownership of your guiding principles among employees and encourage adoption in their daily work. At Network Alliance, a Values Committee of elected staff members ensured the wording and spirit of our Core Values aligned with their experiences. Here’s what they came up with:
    • Be the Wingman
    • Results through Rapport
    • Show Up, Not Show Off
    • Potential, Not Credentials
    • Go All the Way!
  • Employee Recognition Programs – Foster a team-oriented, supportive company culture and incentivizing engagement with and empowerment to perpetuate your company’s Core Values. In a recent “Monthly Positive Experience” survey, where employees have the opportunity to recognize each other with compliments and rewards for “greatness” on client projects. Feedback ranged from ecstatic to blissful to pleased,’\ and unique shout-out rewards that tie back to Network Alliance’s Core Values were given in several forms, including:
    • Amazon Gift Cards
    • BBQ for Two from Omaha Steaks
    • Zingerman’s gourmet deli and dessert items
    • Pizza Lunch
    • Being serenaded from a fellow employee

We’ve learned there is a direct, causal connection between customer service and positive internal culture. Sharing success stories with concrete, hands-on examples is a much more effective way to teach service techniques to employee teams than merely talking about concepts. In 2015, we saw a demonstrable impact on the performance of customer support center team members when we linked the existing employee recognition program to our core values.

Employee engagement and buy-in, from the ground level up, are essential building blocks for building a strong, sustainable organization. Responsive, customized support, as well as the technical expertise and quick turnaround that current clients demand, requires fresh approaches for engaging your teams and encouraging suggestions that constantly improve your offerings and outlook.

Engagement, innovation, and transparency continue to be the core ingredients necessary for building a customer-service program that not only works, but wins!

Don Britton, an EO DC member, has been striving since 1996 to make technology simple and worry-free for small businesses. For more information, please visit www.networkalliance.com.

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