Today I am delighted to share with you the first of three guest posts I have agreed from Jeanne Bliss of CustomerBliss.com. Suffice to say that Jeanne is an expert, an author, an evangelist and an experienced head when it comes to building and developing customer centric businesses. You can read more about her at the end of her post. In the meantime…..enjoy!
Building a Company of R E S P E C T
The Headsets.com experience is defined by the attitude of the customer service rep you reach when you call, and how you feel when you hang up the phone from your conversation with him or her. And that experience fuels their growth. At Headsets.com, 52 phone reps work with customers, guiding them through the maze of selecting the product that is right for them. “At the core of that call is respect” says founder and CEO Mike Faith, “The customer deserves our respect. Sometimes they could be wrong. But they always deserve our respect.” And that’s why if any one of those reps rolls his or her eyes, acts exasperated, or does not give customers the respect they deserve, that rep Headsets.com.
Compromising Culture Hinders Growth
To ensure that disrespect is a rarity, Headsets.com is very rigorous in how they screen and hire candidates. Before they are hired, candidates go through what Mike Faith calls a day of customer service tryouts. This includes up to eight interviews. They talk to a voice coach (to check for warmth, tone, and empathy) and a business psychologist, to understand how they react to pressure and how they might, for example, keep their exasperation in check when customer calls get unwieldy. They are tested for memory and English usage and grammar. They sit in on calls. After these initial screens, multiple interviews inside the company determine if they are a “fit” for the Headsets.com culture and customer commitment.
This rigour is in place because reps are encouraged to trust their gut in how they interact with customers. And respect is paramount to these interactions. And that’s why if any one of those reps rolls his or her eyes, acts exasperated, or does not give customers the respect they deserve, that rep is asked if they want to take their leave from Headsets.com. Although rarely acted upon (because of the rigour taken during selection), this commitment of making disrespect a “fireable” offence helps reps who have had a long work shift, or a chatty customer asking obvious questions, remember that customers are entitled to their point of view, to their rant, and to have their say.
Customer Respect Rules
Headsets.com is, according to Mike Faith, “dedicated to customer love.” Respect for customers is at the core of that love. The company is a success because of their ability to sustain service passion. Only one in 30 applicants who go through their customer service tryouts make it into the company as a Headsets.com rep. And once you’re there, customer respect rules. Rigorous? Absolutely. But effective? Something must be working. Headsets.com grew from a $40,000 investment in 1998 to $30 million in revenue and 500,000 customers in 2010.
How do you decide who to pick as the people who will deliver your special blend of service, support, and personal connection to your customers? Is your interview process as unique as your business? Should you give applicants a “customer service tryout” like Headsets.com does?
As the Customer Leadership Executive for five large U.S. market leaders, Jeanne fought valiantly to get the customer on the strategic agenda, redirecting priorities and creating transformational changes to the brands’ customer loyalty. She has driven achievement of 95 percent loyalty rates, changing customer experiences across 50,000-person organizations.
Jeanne developed her passion for customer loyalty at Lands’ End, Inc., where she reported to the company’s founder and executive committee as leader for the Lands’ End customer experience. She was Senior Vice President of Franchise Services for Coldwell Banker Corporation. Jeanne served Allstate Corporation as its chief officer for customer loyalty & retention. She was Microsoft Corporation’s General Manager of Worldwide Customer & Partner Loyalty. At Mazda Motor of America she initiated the brand’s retention effort.
After 25 years as the Customer Experience Executive in five major US Corporations, Jeanne founded CustomerBliss in order to create clarity and an actionable path for driving the customer loyalty commitment into business operations.
You can learn more about Jeanne at her website CustomerBliss.com, on her blog, on Twitter @jeannebliss, on her CustomerBliss Channel on Youtube or you can check out her books: I Love You More Than My Dog”: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad and Chief Customer Officer. Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action.