What is service culture? The basic definition for service culture is an environment where employees are obsessed with providing superior customer service to clients. This means going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the people paying for your goods and services are delighted. Not only does this make good business sense, it is an excellent way to help your organization stand out in a crowded marketplace.

If you aren’t totally sure what a positive service culture looks like, let’s explore various scenarios. There are tons of service culture examples you could probably think of from the top of your head. A sales associate at a large sporting goods retailer showing you not only the exact item you were looking for but also giving you tips on additional items you might need for a camping trip is an example of a favorable service culture. Or calling into your insurance company and being asked to complete a survey with your honest thoughts on customer care is also an example of a positive service culture.

Simply put, any organization that puts the needs of customers at the forefront of business operations is embodying a positive service culture definition.

Importance of service culture

There are many reasons why a strong service culture is important for your business. However, the importance of service culture goes far beyond just what your employees or your customers experience—customer service and company culture need to go hand in hand for your firm to be successful.

Why? First, having a focus on making sure the customer is satisfied is just an easy way to have a stronger organization. Not only will your reputation be much more favorable if you’re focused on the customer, but there’s also a good chance that the number of repeat customers you have will increase.

Second, the strong relationship between service and culture of an organization goes even farther than the ability to enjoy more sales and a higher level of customer loyalty. Another benefit of a strong service culture is increased employee motivation and better customer experiences. Just think how many employees might actually enjoy their workday if they aren’t constantly yelled at or berated by irate customers.

Third, your reputation means a lot. If your company is widely known for rudeness to customers or unhelpful staff, there’s a good chance that they won’t continue to choose you over your competitor. For firms in incredibly tight markets, this can mean the difference between making a sale or not.

Finally, there’s the overall picture of having a strong service culture in your organization. Let’s go back to our customer service culture examples we discussed in a previous section. Companies such as the sporting goods store with employees who go above and beyond for the customer likely make more sales than those that simply allow the shopper to pick items out themselves. Furthermore, the insurance company that takes the time to survey customers also gets immediate feedback about any areas that need adjustment. Both of these companies likely have a positive or above average employee turnover rate.

How to build a strong customer service culture

Now that you’ve learned to define the term service culture, it is important to figure out where your company is currently at and how to get to an improved status. Of course, there are several steps you can take to ensure your business has a strong sales and service culture. Here are five of the most common.

Step 1: Clearly define what great customer service means through your mission, vision, or brand promise.

You probably already have a clear mission, vision, brand promise, or a combination of more than one. But if you aren’t currently including a section that defines your stance on excellent customer service, it is time for an amendment. When these items include elements of service culture within them, it becomes clear to the customer and your employees that excellent service is a top priority.

Step 2: Hire the best employees who will live out this vision.

Having a great stance on customer service is important—but only if your employees remain committed to living out this vision. Having a strong service culture starts with your hiring practices. Screen potential candidates to see if they have what it takes to meet the goals of your organization. Likewise, offer incentives for positive customer service to help retain your best workers.

Step 3: Set guidelines for your entire customer service team.

Clear expectations are the backbone of any strong organization. Be sure to set guidelines for your entire customer service team and match training practices to these principles. The more time you spend making it clear that you are a service focused organization, the easier it is to help carry the mission through to the end customer.

Step 4: Engage employees with your service culture through adequate customer service training so everyone is on the same page.

As we’ve previously discussed, the benefits of good customer service to the employee are great. Not only does having happy customers make everyone’s job easier, it also helps keep employee retention high. To do this, make sure you offer adequate customer service training. Even employees that aren’t part of your sales or service teams should know that their efforts have a positive effect on the final customer.

Step 5: Set goals based on your customer service vision and guiding principles.

Finally, it is important to set goals based on your customer service vision and guiding principles. This allows you to continuously monitor where your company is at in terms of having a strong service culture while enjoying the benefit of having data to back it up. A few easy ways to do this include offering customer surveys or routinely monitoring sales calls.

Finding the right dynamic for bringing your company into a service-focused culture doesn’t have to be difficult. These five steps are a great way to ensure you have happy customers, motivated employees, and a strong business reputation.