Here’s Why Customer Service is What Founders Should Think of First

Customer service isn’t a department, it’s “part of the culture and the philosophy of a company.”

That’s the opinion of Shep Hyken, a customer service and experience expert, and New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.

Shep works with companies like American Airlines, American Express, Lexus, Disney, and those with less than 50 staff, and I was lucky to get some of his time on my podcast.

Customer service starts with your employees

Shep says great customer experiences start with your staff being happy first:

“The best companies today — it’s cultural. (Customer service) is not just a department where you call when the customer experience goes wrong. Granted there may be a customer support or customer service department but the entire company is focused on giving great service and delivering an experience, and I call that being customer focused. It’s really interesting to see that these companies that are best in class at doing this — if you take a look at what the employees are saying about them — there’s, and you can see employee ratings on what they think of their company, you’ll find that the best companies in customer service and experience are usually some of the best companies in the customer and the employee experience as well. They go hand-in-hand. I truly believe what’s happening on the inside of a company is felt on the outside.”

Shep’s message to founders is clear:

“So to somebody starting up a company: they need to be thinking about customer focus before they even make their first sale. Customer service is not just about taking a complaint and resolving an issue. It’s about making sure that customer ideally never has a complaint or an issue to be resolved.”

How to implement great customer service and experience

Shep recommends you think about your customer journey, and start from how you want them to feel:

“It’s almost like you’re going to rework reverse engineer it and decide what do you want that customer to experience? And by the way, what you want the customer to experience and what you want them to perceive you as — the only one that can judge that is the customer. They’re the judge and the jury when it comes to determining whether or not you’re delivering great service. You may think you are you may be doing everything you can, but you know what? They get to judge. So here’s what I would suggest doing. Think with the end in mind. What do you want that customer to experience? Then go all the way back, what’s the very first interaction that customer is going to have? Maybe it’s going and doing a Google search on something they don’t even know you’re the company that’s going to come up on the search but that’s the beginning. And they hit the website and: “Wow, okay I’m learning about the company.” (You’re) building trust with that because it’s easy to navigate the website. Maybe I’m seeing some testimonials, maybe: ‘Oh here’s a guarantee, here’s a phone number that I can call if I have a problem, and then maybe I go visit the store or I pick up the phone, or maybe I just email or maybe it’s the kind of business we could just buy right then and there. Whatever it is, these are all interaction points and every step of the way, every interaction that customer experiences with your company has to be mapped out. And therefore every employee that helps drive whenever that experience is, also needs to be part of that map.”

Getting customer service right: A real-world example

“Quick example, let’s say I’m a digital marketer and I sell a product online and somebody buys something from me. The person in the warehouse who’s going to box that product up will never see that customer’s face. However if that’s not boxed properly and it shows up damaged, guess what that customer’s experience is? It’s negative. And guess who’s responsible for it? The guy that never ever sees the customer. So we try to plant the seed in everybody’s mind, that if they’re not dealing directly with the customer, they’re supporting somebody that is or they’re involved in a process that actually has impact on the customer.”

Where startups go wrong with their customers

Shep says leaders don’t train employees properly, or for long enough:

“Leadership doesn’t properly train everybody. They may hire really good people and I think you’ve got to hire good people, but then you have to train them. And it’s something that you do over and over again, it’s not just one time. So I always say training is not something you did it’s something you do — ongoing — and it’s forever. I think also, sometimes leaders have a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ kind of an attitude? And the best companies, the leadership represents what the customer’s supposed to feel by the way they treat the employee.”

The number one rule of customer service and experience

“I have this golden rule, it’s called the employee golden rule. The regular golden rule we grew up learning is: ‘Do unto others as you want done to yourself.” Well the employee golden rule is to: “Do unto employees as you want done unto the customer.” In other words, treat them and be the role model internally, to showcase what you want the customer to experience on the outside.”

Do you need to make some changes to your customer experience?


For my full interview with Shep Hyken, take a listen via this link.

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