Training & Development

Build customer service into company’s culture

Customer service is a never-ending process.

While the pursuit of perfection is a worthy goal in satisfying customers, the ultimate success is determined by how a company or organization handles a problem or complaint.

“Never feel like you’ve made it or reached the top,” says Donna Kirby, Pensacola Blue Wahoos Vice President of Operational Development and customer service guru. “There’s always room for improvement.”

Kirby covered a range of customer-service related topics at a workshop at Pensacola Little Theatre hosted by the Studer Community Institute. More than 100 people from a cross section of business, civic and community businesses and organizations attended Thursday’s session.

In her presentation, “Harnessing the Power of Exemplary Customer Service, ”Kirby emphasized the importance of rounding, reward and recognition, and how to effectively use surveys to get better results and outcomes.

Attendees used table exercises to discuss strategies to develop on-the-job self improvement ideas and to improve customer service by sharing ideas and best practices.

Kirby shared her years of experience in working for several leaders in the entertainment industry including Warner Bros, NBC/Universal and The Walt Disney Co.

She emphasized that customer service is a built-in culture that starts at the hiring process. Organizations, agencies and businesses can improve their customer service by:

  • Identifying the right staff to build a culture of customer service
  • Understanding the importance of, and value in, peer interviews
  • Recognizing High/Middle/Low performers and how to manage each type
  • Listening to customers and the value of feedback.

In her opening, Kirby touched on the results of the pre-session survey of what attendees want to know to build customer service into the culture of your company:

— Do you have written standards of behavior?

— Do your employees have to sign them?

— Do you use behavioral questions in hiring?

  • How do you train your staff on customer service?

Organizations should use customer satisfaction surveys to find out how their customers really feel about their products and services, Kirby says.

“Surveys create a roadmap of where you are and where you want to be,” Kirby says. “What can we do better? What does right look like to you?”

Surveys work best when the responses are acted upon within 24 hours, she says.

Kirby shared a story about the Blue Wahoos using a survey to improve the fan experience to drive home the importance of using and responding to customer satisfaction surveys.

Fans who sat behind the outfield wall said in a survey that they couldn’t see the scoreboard because it was above their heads. While the team was on a 10-day road trip, the Biule Wahoos staff installed a scoreboard behind the concourse so the fans in the outfield grass could enjoy the game and see the score at the same time.

“They were blown away that we actually read and respond to surveys,” Kirby says. “Reacting to a survey satisfies customers and improves customer service.”

Jeff Nall, chief community officer for the University of West Florida History Trust, says he plans to use the lessons he learned to integrate collecting data while ensuring customers have the best experience.

“I came because I expected to gain additional knowledge and tools that I can use to help train my staff to provide the best customer service possible,” says Nall. “This session on customer service was meaningful and right on point. I would highly recommend it to any organization that values the customer experience.”