When you think of Customer Service, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Something positive, negative, a story, a recent event in your company or personal experience? Customer Service, while something we try and simplify can become highly complex and difficult to manage when you are not looking for the Success Clues. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of books have been written on Customer Service, I’ve attended many and have developed and taught over 100 myself in my career as a Sales Developer. We’ve all met people on the road to corporate customer service improvement movements, better/stronger/faster problem resolution methodologies, and the case studies of companies who have done Customer Service so well, they are profiled in books and featured in seminars.
If the cliché that Success Leaves Clues is true, then we need to be on the hunt, like a detective with a magnifying glass, seeking the elusive clues. Perhaps they are not so elusive, they are waiting to be discovered.
- Clue #1 – It’s In Their DNA – Disney hires “cast members” while Southwest Airlines builds a friendly family. The corporate culture is built around delighting the customer, celebrating the customer, and responding to the customer in ways that go above and beyond the norm. While there is no scientific DNA module attributed to Great Customer Service, it sure does reside in the DNA of the people who are tasked with making the customer service experience wonderful. If you are faced with the attitude of “it sure would be a nice place to work if we could remove the customers…” then you have a serious challenge in finding this Success Clue.
- Clue #2 – It’s Everybody’s Job – Customer Service success comes from knowing that everyone is responsible for customer service. Why? There are three customers in the equation. External Customers are the ones who buy your products and services. Get this group frustrated and you will see an immediate drop in sales revenue. Internal Customers are your employees. Jim Jacobus from www.aplayersonly.wordpress.com says that “front line employees will treat customers only as good as management treats them.” Meaning, if you are in a customer service environment where your management team does not value or nurture the customer service experience, then how can you serve your customers in a true and consistent way? First chance you get, you’ll be looking to leave and find a culture that fits your passion for customer service. The third is YOU. If you are lacking a strong and positive self image then you are beating yourself up in the process of “suiting up and showing up.” You have to believe in yourself enough to really get excited about life and deal with life on life’s terms; good, bad, drama filled, or just plan celebration. So, it really is everyone’s job to be the best you can with Customer Service.
- Clue #3 – It’s All About The Experience – The best way to strive to great customer service is to ask your customers all the time. Give your customers the tools and vehicles to provide feedback on their experiences. Surveys, web sites, phone calls, direct mail questions, rewards for participation, focus groups, user groups, etc. In management, we often have the “perception” that all is well, simply because our direct reports tell us all is well. Or, the information is filtered up the chain so there are no hassles or problems. As I address the experience, I mean both the External and Internal customers, we have to listen to both to get balanced feedback. In sales, the cliché is “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Same can be said about Customer Service Experience. If you do not ask for feedback, the chances of excellent service recovery and making the changes necessary will get lost in the urgency of the day, week, month, and the perception that all is well, will remain…a perception.
These are the three Success Clues I have found as I seek to improve the Customer Service experience for myself and my clients. I know there are more out there, waiting to be discovered and then shared with all the rest of us. So, if you have more, please share.