I recently posed the following question to a group of business owners at the International Franchise Association convention: How do you ensure a great customer service experience for your customers? There were some commonalities among the answers. Even with the diverse collection of businesses — from quick-serve restaurants to online businesses — most of them agreed that good customer service starts with people. Everyone recognized that a good hiring strategy is the heart of good customer service.

I asked one business owner to describe his hiring strategy. He explained that even for entry-level positions, applicants are screened and must go through three rounds of interviews. He said he prides himself on finding a good personality to fit in with his culture. And that’s a good start.

Then I asked my next question: What do you do after they are hired? His response was what I expected to hear. He put the new hires through training. I asked him to elaborate on what they learned in the training sessions. All new employees must go through an orientation on his business’s technology, logistics and processes. He also assigns a mentor to help the new employee through the first week.

I asked the others at the meeting what was missing. Most believed that customer-service training was missing. The business owner’s response, however, was quick. He defended his omission of customer-service training because he chooses employees with the right personality for the job. “I make sure that I hire good people. I hope they know what to do,” he explained.

When it comes to customer service, hope is not a strategy. Customer service must be purposeful. You can hire the nicest people in the world, but you must give them direction and teach them best practices. You must continually reinforce your customer-service strategy and remind employees how to deliver your brand of customer service. You must take what they already know and teach them — very specifically — how to make what they know work for your business.

Don’t leave customer service to chance. Regardless of how good your employees’ people skills are, you can’t simply hope that they will know how to apply those skills to your business. Train them and train them often. Reinforce their positives and help them learn from any mistakes.

Consistently amazing customer service doesn’t happen by accident. It happens on purpose.

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Shep Hyken is a professional speaker and best-selling author. For more information on Shep’s speaking presentations, call 314-692-2200, email shep@hyken.com or go to www.hyken.com.