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Leading a customer-first team

Manager assisting a Spanish speaking customer with his cell phone bill at a Cingular in Elmhurst, Illinois
Manager assisting a Spanish speaking customer with his cell phone bill at a Cingular in Elmhurst, Illinois
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

As the CEO, Manager, or Supervisor, your most important role is leading and motivating a team of employees to give the best customer service experience possible. You’ll be expected to know your company’s products and services completely and be able to communicate it to all members of the workforce. It's your responsibility to create an environment that motivates employees to want to take care of the customers.

"If you try to enhance service and sales behaviors without looking at the culture, you are just painting over rust, the underlying problems eventually reoccur ", says Jeff Mowatt, Customer Service Strategist.

Barbara Farfan of, on setting customer service standards, writes, "When it comes to motivating employees to deliver good customer service, you don’t get what you want, you don’t get what you demand, you don’t get what you think is common sense. You get what you reinforce. If every employee is focused on service standards at the beginning of every shift, the importance of those service standards are automatically reinforced."

Here are two tips from Debra Schmidt, Customer Loyalty Expert, on leading customer centered teams:

  1. Management commitment- Replace lip service with words and actions that consistently show employees that management is committed to the delivery of exceptional customer service. Utilize staff meetings to focus more on meeting the needs of the customer.
  2. Employee involvement-Listen to employee ideas. Sam Walton said, "Listen to everyone in your company, especially the ones who actually talk to customers. They really know what's going on out there." Implement realistic, creative ideas that benefit the customer. No matter how far removed employees are from the front line, they need to believe that their work affects the customer perceptions of the company.

Successful companies are those where the Leadership coaches and inspires every employee to put first, how to provide the best service experience for the customer, as the focus, and in which it is also second nature to every employee and implicit in everything everyone does.

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