If customer service is important to you (and in today’s competitive environment where all customers are spoilt for choice, it should be), then you need to build a culture that is based on passionately serving people. We call this Cultureneering, and we believe it’s the future of successful South African companies.

At Sorbet, we wanted our employees (whom we called citizens) to believe – really believe – that their purpose was to touch lives. In this way they found meaning in their own lives and strived to achieve bigger things. The rewards naturally followed, and financial security became a reality.

Here are the areas we focused on building within our people, to help them embrace their purpose, but also to truly deliver exceptional service:

  • It’s the eyes: human interaction begins with eye contact – look at your customers, see them. Understand them.
  • Smile and the world will smile with you – aka, if you’re happy, tell your face.
  • A genuine smile is a tiny human act that delivers a great return.
  • Be curious. Make your customer feel that they are the only person in your world. Always ask questions. Get to know your customer and explore what you can do for them – not just what’s in it for you.
  • From there, you can determine how can you contribute, add value and help solve their problems. This works in a retail environment as well as a B2B environment where people need trusted environments who can add industry insights to their businesses.
  • Listening matters. Empathetic listening will help you discover what your customers really need.
  • Find the connection points. Where there is common ground you can build trust. Personal struggles, goals, excitement and triumphs, children and parents are all universal, regardless of race, culture or economic backgrounds.
  • Be genuine. You can’t just be going through the motions. People can spot this a mile away.

As the leader of your organization, you cannot expect your team members to deliver on these key customer service points unless they are embedded in your culture. The way to achieve that is to lead by example, both with your customer base as well as in how you treat your employees. This is the foundation of Culture-Driven Leadership.

Ask yourself this question:
How much can you give? If you ask, how much do I need to give, as a leader or team member, you probably aren’t giving enough – and remember, you can’t ask your team to do this if you aren’t doing it yourself.

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