Back in December, Service Untitled posted about a conversation he had with an executive at a Fortune 100 company not noted for customer service. The executive was much more interested in improving customer service than his company was. Service Untitled went on to write that he thought that many companies had executives who wanted to improve customer service but were running into obstacles.
I agree. Are you one of those executives? Do you want to improve your organization´s customer service, but face a culture resistant to change?
If you want to change your company´s culture but feel overwhelmed, start off small and unobtrusively. First, do begin modeling what you believe to be legendary customer service yourself. You may not have customers, that is, those people or accounts who buy from your business, but I´m sure you have internal customers. Exceed their needs. Become comfortable delivering excellent customer service.
Second, if you are a manager dealing with external customers, but you only manage one store or territory, do what you can to implement better customer service in that store or territory. When I was a mid-level manager, I was the first to implement a written complaint policy in my organization. I did it with help from my direct reports. Several of my peers later adopted the same policy as well. You don´t have to wait for the entire organization to change. You can become the innovator.
Third, do research the costs and benefits of customer service in your organization. Conventional wisdom says that it costs 3-5 times as much to acquire a customer as it does to retain one. Is that true in your organization? Is there any data on customers who stopped buying because your service didn´t meet their expectations? How much did that cost your organization in lost sales?
Fourth, do quietly assemble as many facts and case stories to support your case for better customer service. Become a customer service geek and seek out this and other blogs, books, whitepapers, etc. E-mail other bloggers, writers, and me and ask us for input. Use this information to shape a sales presentation to sell others in your organization on the benefits of creating this change.
Finally, here´s one thing you should not do. Don´t think you can change your company´s culture by making your employees go through one customer service training. That´s the flash-in-the-pan approach and it´ll wear off faster than cheap sunscreen. Customer service training is important, but other things must occur first, such as deciding which procedures and policies you´ll implement.
Let me recommend two books. The first is A Complaint is a Gift: Using Customer Feedback As A Strategic Tool by Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller. First written in 1996, it´s still relevant today.
The second is Positively Outrageous Service by Scott Gross. It´s easy to read and will give you tips and "how-to´s" and "what-not-to-do´s."
For the time being this blog doesn´t accept comments. But please feel free to e-mail me with any feedback you have about creating a customer service culture.