In 2017, CPM published an article entitled How do customers feel about the state of customer service in Australia?

  • Australians’ tolerance for poor customer service is lower than ever.
  • Dealing with human beings trumps social and mobile channels.
  • Australian’s value the human side of service over digital.
  • Time calls for bridging the gap between digital service solutions and meaningful human interactions.

Furthermore, an ABC News produced an article about how our supermarket price wars have shifted in message.[2] Supermarkets in Australia want to stand out: this goes beyond price. Rather than focus on expensive campaigns that tell a competitive price story, there is a focus on human stories that promote feelings and emotions and how the Australian people connect to the brand. This seems pretty obvious to me, so I’m glad businesses like Coles and Woolworths have shifted their focus towards service quality, social programs, and connecting with the community. They have shifted their conversation and campaigns to be less concerned about matters of the wallet and more about matters of the heart.

‘When we bring heart to a conversation, we meet people where they are at. 
Talking about matters of the heart, when it comes to service, is your winning formula.
Here is why:’

Engage the brain
Well-known author Daniel Goleman has dedicated his life to the science of human relationships and has unveiled new results from neuro-sociology to explain how sociable our brains are. According to Goleman, we are drawn to other people’s brains whenever we engage with another person.
We all crave meaningful connectivity with others in order to deepen our relationships, and yet, there are countless studies to suggest that we are lonelier than ever and that loneliness, in fact, is now a world health epidemic. Specifically, more than 80 percent of those who took part in an Australian Lifeline survey believe our society is becoming a lonelier place. Yet, our brains crave human interaction.

Amplify the human touch points in your service interactions to engage the brains (and hearts) of your customers.

Who is responsible for driving meaningful service interactions in your business?
Here’s what I know: the more positive human interactions your customer’s have with your brand, the more meaningful the connection will be.
Highly engaged employees who serve customers with meaning and connection are often part of a team led by a high performing leader. Leaders are the largest contributor to consistent quality service in an organisation’s culture. I am convinced of this.
If your role, on this planet, is to be a leader, then you must step into service with the understanding that service is not something that you do—it’s a way of life.
Service starts with you
Imagine if we all worked for nothing: no money, no employee benefits, no car allowance, no travel perks. Instead, you volunteered your time and efforts; you ‘served’ in the truest sense.
A willingness to serve means giving all you have and expecting nothing in return. As a human, you naturally do this. You might have:

  • noticed a stranger who needed a seat on the bus, so you stood up and offered them yours
  • listened to a student or an employee who asked for your help so you gave them some advice
  • made yourself available for a friend or neighbour moving house on their own
  • stayed late at work to help a struggling colleague, knowing you wouldn’t get paid for the extra hours.

What does it mean to ‘be in service’?
Being in service is knowing that the act or deed you have carried out will make someone’s day better, will impact them in a positive way, or will make them and you happy. It may be a small, inconsequential act, but you are delivering it with the willingness to be there, and to help without expecting anything in return.
When we bring heart to a service interaction, we tap into the ultimate desire of any human— happiness. As humans, we can make the simplest things complicated but serving with heart is an act of love, and love is something we all have the ability to create. It’s supremely simple, requires no training and the more you give love the more it increases. Only our ego can stand between us and love, which is why service requires leaders to prioritise heart over mind.
How do leaders influence customer service?
As leaders, we cannot expect our teams to follow us, or our customers to come back to us if we are not willing to practice the act of service ourselves. Leadership is about being consistent and showing up as a role model whom others respect. You set the tone with your employees and this has a flow-on effect to your customers.
The most highly impactful leaders have a deep level of interest in people and are willing to contribute often. This winning combination of being interested in people and looking for ways to contribute to others’ happiness—in a day or in that moment—is a trait of a leader who is practicing the act of service.
If I asked you to think of one person who helped you become the person you are today: who would that be? Your reasons for choosing that person may largely be due to how they behaved, how they helped you see something you could not see, how they supported you or how they committed to developing you at a time when you needed it.
Whatever the reason, it was impactful and important enough for you to remember. So what if you were that person for someone else? Or for your team and your customers. We can’t know just how much we affect our teams and the culture of our business with every mood, every thought, every gesture, every word.

As seen in the model, supporting others is not enough. We often support people in ways that show little interest in the human being standing in front of us. We want leaders to step up and raise other people by serving others. When a leader is truly serving others they not only transform the way they approach their work and relationships, but they will set the tone and expectations of their teams too.

You set the expectation of your employees, the tone of your culture, and for the type of service your customers receive.

There are two questions to ask yourself around your approach and mindset towards service:

  1. How interested are you in others?
  2. How much do you contribute to people’s happiness, days, lives?

Make it stick
All organisations want service programs and a level of investment in people to be long lasting and sticky. When training and development is viewed as a valuable activity, it is usually because it has not dissolved after a few months of the initial hype, but rather the initiatives have created a step change and the desired service behaviours have stuck.
Developing your frontline leaders is the methodology that achieves the stickiest results when creating a customer service mindset. If you would like to know more about developing your leaders in a service environment, take a look below.

[1] Source:

[2] Source:

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