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Two Steps to Starting a Customer Service Initiative from Scratch

Nearly 4 years ago BenchMark Rehab Partners decided we should start a customer service program. And when we decide to do something, we do it whole-heartedly.

We focused our time, effort, and money to improve the experiences of all our customers and differentiate our company from the ho-hum pack. While many companies strive for this, very few make the commitment and investment we did to achieve our goal.

Our customer service program is about “Creating A Remarkable Experience” so we call it the CARE program.  And, I’ve had the pleasure of nurturing this program from its inception.

So how does a company with 1,000 associates spread across 7 states start a customer service program?  Well, we did it in 2 steps.

Step 1: Identify Guiding Standards

The first thing we needed was to identify the guiding standards of our company—those trail markers that could lead us down the path toward our non-negotiables: our Mission, Vision, and Values.

We have always taken great pride in our hands-on, anti-cookie cutter treatment approach, but that did not help us make decisions or align our actions with our brand. We needed simple operational guidelines every associate could use to reach similar decisions.

We gathered our leaders, 50 or so of them, and brainstormed, discussed, and word-smithed to arrive at our top 4 standards.

  • Courtesy
  • Efficiency
  • Presentation
  • Safety

But, there was a problem. Even if every one of our associates were using these same four standards, very different decisions could be made.

For example, if an associate valued efficiency above all else, the perception might be they were cold and uncaring or that they felt the customer was just a number.  If an associate valued presentation above all else, they could create an environment that was beautiful but not safe.

We needed to put them in a priority order.

Step 2: Prioritize the Order

We gathered in small groups and force ranked our 4 standards; there could be no ties. Then, we each stated our reasons for the rankings and eventually came to an agreement.

I won’t lie, this took a lot of time. Getting 50 independent thinkers to agree was no small feat, but we did it.

We came up with this order for these reasons:

  • Safety – Customers and associates needed to know they were in a safe place both physically and emotionally. We decided the old saying “Safety First” was right.
  • Courtesy – We felt everyone deserved sincere kindness, compassion, and hospitality. It was vital for us that our customers believed we cared about them and not just their money.
  • Presentation – We agreed that appearances sent a message about our professionalism.  Not only how we look and act, but how our clinics look as well.  And, seeing is believing.
  • Efficiency: Last, we decided if we did all of the above in the shortest timeframe possible, we could give people the gift of time.

Once we came up with this order, we felt pretty smart since many Fortune 500 companies, including Disney, use the same 4 in the same order.

Next came implementation of the program, but that is a topic for another blog.  I will say that it is much easier to implement a program that was created by the people who will use it!

Are you wondering if it worked?  Yes, it did.  And here’s how I know.

Three years later, our Operational Standards are woven into our daily routine.  We use them for decisions. We use them for coaching and guidance. We use them for Annual Reviews. We even use them to survey our Clinic’s appearance.

Also, three years later we are still growing – well over 2,000 associates with 350+ clinics in 13 states. I believe this is due in part to the culture our “Non-negotiables” have created including the Operational Standards.

Thanks for your interest – let me know if you found this blog helpful!

Would you like to work for a company with this culture?  Contact our Recruiting team at Recruiting@bmrp.com.

Would you like to partner your clinics with a culture like ours?  Contact our Business Development team at 205-536-7604.

Stacey Corrado, PT is a physical therapist who has dedicated her love of customer service to BenchMark’s CARE Initiative.  She strives to Create A Remarkable Experience at every touch point for our customers – both internal and external.  Stacey can be reached at scorrado@bmrp.com.