Southwest Airlines President Emeritus Colleen Barrett once said, “To earn the respect (and eventually love) of your customers, you first have to respect those customers. That is why Golden Rule behavior is embraced by most of the winning companies.”


By Stephanie Jones

Ah, yes. The classic Golden Rule: do unto others as you want them to do to you. It’s this timeless principle at the heart of customer-centrism.

But how do you get everyone at a business to focus on the customer? Where do you start if you want to become customer-centric? I’ll tell you; one of your greatest secret weapons for cultivating a business centered on its customers is training.

Training comes in all shapes and sizes. Some organizations rely on knowledge databases and online training to keep employees in the know. Others make use of real-world experience to challenge new employees. Some just dole our employee handbooks and cross their fingers. And then others may do all of the above.

Great training has many facets, and when you’re training for a customer-centric experience, it’s all hands on deck. Here are some of the most important components for creating customer-centrism through training.

Show, don’t tell

An employee handbook is a good guideline for the very basics like when payday occurs and the preferred dress code. You can even spell out your customer service policy in the handbook, but you can’t rely on a singular source to produce the customer-centric culture you seek.

Your employees should know exactly how you want your customers treated by watching you. It’s your business and you set the tone; your treatment of others is the best possible example you have. Words are great, but actions are better.

If you utilize an online training platform like we do, use it to reinforce examples of how your employees should go above and beyond for your customers. We also use samples of exceptional calls to train the agents on proper technique and to display the quality of customer service we expect. Show, don’t tell.

Observe and provide feedback

I know you’re busy–all business owners are. Yet, not taking the time to observe your employees and provide them with actionable feedback is a lost opportunity for growth.

Whether you record calls to monitor for quality or stand with them as they assist a customer or edit a piece of customer-facing copy they wrote, spending your time on teachable moments buoys the confidence of your employees which ultimately raises the quality of customer service.

Treat your employees extraordinarily well

Employee engagement is another component of good training. When you keep your employees in the know and genuinely care for their well-being, they will provide your customers with unsurpassed service. And that engagement is often rewarded.

Gallup conducted a study that found companies in the top quartiles of employee engagement are met with 10 percent higher customer ratings.

You want to trust that your staff will take care of your customers and care about your business. Taking exceptional care of the people who are on the payroll motivates them to take care of you and your company.

Recognition is everything

Recognizing outstanding work is one tier of training for customer-centrism. You reward your most loyal customers, right? So, why wouldn’t you celebrate your employees for doing great work for your customers?

Team activities are good when the whole organization hits a major goal, but nothing beats shining the spotlight on an individual.

At PATLive, we have monthly meetings where everyone–from the CEO to the newest member of our answering service team–shows recognition for great work they’ve seen around the company. It’s such a morale boost! And morale needs to stay high if you want delighted customers.

Attaining customer-centrism won’t happen without a commitment to great training.

Exceedingly, customers expect a lot from businesses large and small. In fact, 64 percent of people find customer experience more important than price when making a purchase. But you can’t offer the most desired customer experience without a solid training initiative; it’s imperative you see training as an ever expanding, living thing. There’s no end–it should always be improving and evolving. And that is particularly true of those who long to cultivate customer-centrism for the businesses.

Stephanie Jones is the Instructional Designer for PATLive where she utilizes her passion for great customer service in creating better employee training. She has a background in journalism, and has written many posts for the PATLive blog.

Customers stock photo by canbedone/Shutterstock