[June 03, 2014] Last year I was at the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a new driver’s license and car plates. Nationwide DMVs have a bad reputation for historically terrible customer service. Interestingly, DMVs are used as an example in public service seminars as the classic case of how not to give good customer service. I was mentally prepared to wait – practicing mental “resilience.”
As leaders we need to be aware whether our employees are providing the best customer service possible. The source of this service is the value of respect for others; it also happens to be the basis for companies staying in business. Customer service, however, is not limited to business; it applies to all walks of life. I’ve written several times on the importance of respect (links here, here, and here).
Customer service differs somewhat by organization. Like the characteristics of leadership, there are some common themes in customer service. Over the next few days, I will publish indicators of good customer service for the military and trends. How well we do this both inside and outside the military deserves discussion. I will compare the military to business customer serve attributes.
Today, here are some of the most common customer service attributes for business:
- Know your customer
- Listen to the customer
- Identify and anticipate needs of the customer
- Set expectations and always over deliver – go the extra mile
- Get feedback
- Deal with complaints promptly
- Be helpful, even when there is no profit
- Train employees how to provide the best service
- Be willing to take the blame
- Treat your employees well, listen to them, respect them as human beings
It is difficult to say which of these is most important but training employees to provide exceptional service is probably the most difficult and resource consuming item. Failure to provide the best service starts at the top of the organization and filters down. If the boss doesn’t care that much, customer service will suffer.
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[Note] Here are some good sites that discuss customer service. A search of the Internet turns up millions of these sites.