Five Steps to Creating a Customer-Service Centered Organization 


May 30, 2023

Exceptional customer service. It’s a corporate buzzword—and a near-sacred aspiration. Every company claims to have employees who “love their customers.” But what does it mean to truly have a customer service-oriented company? 

We’re working on that question every day at Integris because it’s a journey that’s never truly done. However, we’ve been at this process for enough years to have uncovered some essential truths from trial and error. So, in honor of June being national customer service month, it seemed like an excellent time to pass along some of those customer service lessons. 

What are the foundational things a company should do to build a customer service culture? Here are my thoughts on the matter. 


Step #1: Hire the Right Person

This may seem like a simple and obvious tip. But I assure you, it’s the most difficult thing to achieve because it requires some active guesswork at the hiring stage. There’s a lot you can do, though, to weed out the wrong people, and find the right ones. It starts by asking the right questions during the interview stage. 

Here are some of the things I look for when I’m interviewing: 

Do they seem more driven by their own personal achievements, or by what they were able to deliver for the customer?

You’ll see this in how they frame their discussions about their career. The right person will talk about how they changed processes, or delivered results, or enjoyed working with their customers or teams. They’ll frame their accomplishments in terms of the “we.” 


Do they seem excited by the prospect of working in a “people-first culture?”

Business magnate Richard Branson describes this as taking care of the employees first, so you’ll get employees who are focused on the customer. This comes with a culture that provides a sense of psychological safety for employees so they can speak up, challenge the status quo, and work across silos to get the job done right for clients. If you’re talking to someone who’s very into rigid authority structures and being the person “in charge,” they’re probably not a good match for a service-focused company. 


Do they understand how their work affects the bigger picture?

Especially in companies working in technical fields, it’s easy for employees to get lost in the weeds. You’ll need employees with technical expertise, of course, but also able to see how their work impacts the customer. Any of your employees should be conversant enough to work directly with the customer if need be. No employee should be allowed to work in a bubble, nor should they want to.  

A lot of companies get caught up in creating a job listing and finding the person that fits that description exactly. I would rather hire a person with the right personality traits, who’s eager to learn the individual skills they need on the job. Obviously, you can’t do that for every position. But in the ones where you can have some wiggle room, you can afford to think more broadly about who you recruit. Look for the employees who want to leave work every day, knowing they made a difference for your customers. 


Step #2: Weave Customer Service Training into Everything You Do

Training is the wisest investment a company can make. Why? Because it creates common standards for what the company stands for, how employees are expected to act, and what they are supposed to deliver to the client. A lot of companies stop at technical and procedural training. I believe that’s only the beginning. 

Once employees understand the basics of how their job works, that’s when they need the most training on how to deal with customer calls and requests. Mentoring and job shadowing with other excellent service employees are key for this. But I’d suggest training your employees to do a little bit more. 

That “little bit more” comes from proactive service. For instance, the former Ritz Carlton CEO encouraged his front desk staff to memorize the names and faces of the guests staying at their hotel. When that employee sees that guest standing in line for the second time, they don’t call them up just saying “I can take who’s next.” They say “Mr. Johnson. You’re next. How can I help you today?” If they order a drink at the bar the second time around, the bartender should say “A margarita? You want salt on the rim with that again, right?” 

Here at Integris, we’re providing more complex and technical service than just mixing a drink. But the same principle applies. Being proactive, I believe, is what separates us from the random guy providing IT service down the street. So, we’re constantly asking ourselves, how can we get one step ahead of what our clients need? How can we anticipate their usage patterns, their threat vectors, and compliance requirements coming down the pike? This requires people on their account who are trained to ask the right questions and take note of the right things. 

Think—what would surprise and delight your customers? Then figure out how to deliver those extras. 


Step #3:  Empower Your Employees with the Right Customer Service Structures and Tools

Before you can ask the right questions, you’ll need the right information. So as a leader, ask yourself, do my employees have the right data to offer proactive customer service? 

For that front desk staff, it may be as simple as having fields built into their customer records so that staff can share notes about that customer’s service experience. For us, our monitoring tools come into play. We have vCIOs and vCISOs who are trained to understand the patterns these tools can show.  They can show us spikes in usage and threat detection, or help us analyze the client’s hardware/software life cycle, and so much more. It allows us to proactively plan, so our customers are never in a situation where they’re overwhelmed and ill-equipped. 

I encourage you to consider what structures and incentives you can put in place to help your service people exceed expectations. Then make that a part of your brand. You just might find it’s revolutionizing the way you think of your product. 


Step #4: Build a Fast and Error-Free Infrastructure

Once you have the right tools in place to make your employees successful, it’s time to move on to the next step: Improving speed and accuracy. 

Now that we have more advanced technologies in the workplace, customers are accustomed to getting work done seamlessly. So I ask you—what fail-safes are you putting in place to reduce errors? When was the last time you looked at how long it takes an average employee to complete tasks and focused on ways to streamline? How could you change your processes to surprise and delight your customers with those streamlined processes?  

It’s not enough, however, to simply tweak your processes. You must hardwire these new behaviors and processes into your training at every level. Empower your employees to think critically about the work they do, so they can find new and innovative ways to continuously improve your business and make speed and accuracy a foundational value in your company. 

It’s something we’re striving to do every day at Integris. It may just be the most important work we do.


Step #5: Create a Consistent and Safe Culture and Good Customer Service Will Follow

We talk a lot at Integris about being a people-first culture, and I believe that starts with consistency in management. People need to feel safe and heard at work. After all, how can you take care of customers when no one takes care of you? 

This starts with management training and should be reflected from the highest levels of management to the lowest levels. The managers in your company need to approach problems with openness and curiosity, not reproach. Employees need to know that managers across the company are willing to talk about and address failures quickly, and work on solutions together to overcome the problem. 

This has an enormous downstream effect on customer service. When something goes wrong at a customer account, they’re empowered to address it fast, instead of covering it up. They know they’ll get cooperation throughout the organization to get the problem fixed and know their manager will have their back. And this will create an organization that’s both accountable and responsive. 

It all gets back to the concept of psychological safety that I brought up earlier. Instead of a “cover your back” culture, create one where constant improvement is encouraged. The answer should never be “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Have an organization where people are encouraged to question structures and come up with better ways to do things. 


When Things Go Wrong, Who Do You Want in Your Corner?

Let’s face it—technology breaks, unexpected threats emerge, and life takes unexpected turns. These things happen in good organizations and bad ones.  

Who would you rather have working with you in an emergency? Employees who are empowered to find creative solutions or employees who are hidebound to rules? An employee who feels supported, or one who must check in with several micromanaging supervisors before they can respond? A team member who’s accountable or one who deflects? A service tech who understands the customer’s business from top to bottom, or one who only works on their little silo? 

Customer service is at the heart of everything in business. At the end of the day, we are all serving someone, whether that is a co-worker or a customer. When you strengthen your customer service training and processes, you’re strengthening your core business proposition. Period. 

We’re a growing company at Integris, bringing in new people, processes, and products all the time. Every day, our goal is to get better and better at serving others. It’s a job that’s never done. I, for one, look forward to the challenge. 

Want to learn more about how our Integris team treats our customers? Check out our profile on Clutch.

Mike Fowler was Chief Operating Officer at Integris until 2023. In this role, he brought over twenty years of experience in the IT and MSP industry, including the operations of a national brand.

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