We have all heard the stories of excellent service from Zappos or Nordstrom, so it is only natural to want to take a page from their books and model our own corporate culture or service delivery after theirs. But first we need to evaluate our own customer base and whether or not our customers desire their interactions with us to have a personality similar to these companies.
Zappos may sell shoes, but its corporate culture is very relaxed. Employees are encouraged to bring the full force of their personalities to the office and to their customers. It works for Zappos because their industry is not a very stodgy one – shoes do not require seriousness, so the lighthearted personality of the company meshes well with the needs of its customers. However, a company in an industry where precision and depth of knowledge are key may not fare so well attempting to inject so much fun or informality into its dealings with customers.
Nordstrom serves a range of client personalities across its many departments and its associates give off an extremely polite vibe. Their friendliness is not overly chummy or overly familiar, but they are warm and gracious. Their professionalism and efficiency is uniform across interactions and this plays into the upscale, service-oriented reputation that is a pillar of the brand. For smaller companies in niche markets, customers may prefer a warmer, more homey approach because they want to feel more personally connected to the products or brand.
Figuring out who our customers are (what’s their common personality profile?), who our customers want us to be (what role are we and our products fulfilling for them?), and how we can deliver excellent service in a way that honors both of the former is the key to lasting customer service success. Launch some role play scenarios and see how the “customer” feels about the interactions after brainstorming a complete customer profile. Which corporate personality and approach to service is most in keeping with who the customer is? If the answer is something vastly different from the status quo, do not panic. Changes can be implemented slowly to incorporate more ideal approaches to customer interactions. Whether this means the standardization of greetings and service phrases or the removal of formalities, the changes should be authentic in order to effectively connect with customers, and that means taking baby steps towards the identified ideal.