You know the companies that empower their staff to make decisions because you remember their exceptional customer service.

Zappos is the obvious example, from sending a new pair of shoes to a customer when they just asked for a new pair of laces to sending UPS to collect a pair of shoes from a customer who hadn’t gotten around to sending hers back because her mum had suddenly died. They genuinely care about the customer and go to great lengths to provide the best service – their annual profits speak for themselves.

Their success and outstanding customer service is built on a strong customer focused corporate culture that recognises and respects employees. Over here, John Lewis is similar. Everyone is a partner in the business, which immediately incentivises them to deliver the best customer service to increase loyalty and profits. “Showing enterprise” is core to their brand values, so people are encouraged to show initiative and make on the spot decisions for customers, leading to a happier workforce and loyal customers.

We know empowering employees works but where do you start?

Find the right people.
Recruit people that are aligned to your core values, ask questions that uncover their real attitudes towards the customer so you get a real sense of how far they will go for them.

Make sure everyone understands your brand and why you do what you do.
It’ll make it easier to make customer focused decisions.

Train and trust.
If you invest in your team with relevant training, you can trust they’ll make the right decision for your customers. There’s no bigger complement then trust. Sure it’s a bit scary, but you’ll be rewarded with people that go above and beyond.  AO.com have a ‘no rules’ approach in their call centre, except one, “treat every customer like they’re your grandma and fix how you would for her.” There are no financial restraints, they can do anything that is fair and reasonable.

Value and praise.
The simple words ‘Thank you’ are extremely powerful. Take time to recognise good customer service, thank people and praise them for their positive customer focused behaviour. Happy employees = happy customers

Good customer service increases brand loyalty which boosts the live time value of the customer. Get it wrong and 91% of dissatisfied customers won’t do business again. So it makes sense to start empowering employees to deliver the best customer service ever, and what better time to start than Christmas.