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Eileen Fisher: Why Culture Drives Great Customer Service

Today I called a contractor for work on our home.

"It's a great day at Nick's," the woman on the line answered in a monotone voice.

"So glad it's a great day," I said to start the conversation.

"Mmmmm. . . Hmmm. . . . Can I help you?," she answered curtly.

If there is one thing we all know from personal experience, it's hard to feel you are getting great customer service when you are talking to an irritated employee. Her canned hello, instead of being an invitation, just projected to me how unhappy she was. With that attitude, she probably would have been better off just saying hello!

My trip to see fashion icon Eileen Fisher's design studio in New York City taught me six ways they are keeping employees happy and delivering great customer service as a result.

Here's the six secrets Executive Karen Gray shared.

  • Integrate employee passions into their job. Energize your workplace by figuring out how to divide tasks so people do more of what they love. AT many retail stores, Eileen Fisher store managers sit down with staff to find out what makes them tick. Giving one young employee a chance to run a staff meeting at an Eileen Fisher retail store, for example, made her more passionate about her job.

  • Recognize talent by promoting from within. Find ways to reward people with career progression opportunities. Great people almost never stay at dead end jobs. At Eileen Fisher you may start on the retail floor, but you can end up on the executive tam.

  • Head the call for caring with benefits, benefits, benefits. Show staff you care about them. They want to know you've got their back when sickness, disability or other life challenges emerge. Staff care dearly about Eileen Fisher's strong benefits package-for health-care, ongoing education and retirement.

  • Find everyday ways to accommodate needs. Particularly when you are pushing your staff, find ways to accommodate their needs. Retail jobs are tough and hours are long. Talking to staff to find schedules that give them time to exercise and meet family and other obligations goes a long way in creating Eileen Fisher goodwill. Another perk - a yoga studio and massage parlor at HQ!

  • Go the extra mile when times get tough. Go beyond legal requirements during your employees time of need to help everyone feel that they are part of a family. Maternity and health leaves are a great time to show you care. When an employee got cancer, Eileen Fisher took the extra steps to hold her job until she recovered and then integrated her successfully back on the team.

  • Build the tribe. Help employees feel they are part of a tribe. People want shared stories, experience and language. Events like Climate Rides are amazing opportunities for Eileen Fisher staff to bond outside the office. And then employees build the tribal lore by sharing they stories across FishNet - the company's internal communications website.

How is your company or organization actively working to create happy employees in the workplace?

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