[June 04, 2014] In Part 1, the link between customer service and leadership was discussed (link here). I proposed that customer service varies somewhat by organization; the basics however are largely the same. A retail business for example may be different in their customer service than the military. Today, I will make this comparison.
Oh, what about my New York State DMV experience? Well, it turned out that it took me 6 hours to get through the process, including all the correct paperwork, but my license would take about 2 weeks as it would be mailed to my house. I gave up on the car license plate and paid a car shop $100 to get it for me. There was no way I could take another full day off work. For me the DMV customer service was subpar.
Yesterday I listed 10 attributes for a business and these are listed in the “notes” below. So how does the military delivery of “customer service” differ from a business?
The basic difference between a business and the military is who is the customer1 and the profit motive. Business people are motivated to provide a product or service to the customer from which they derive their money to operate (profit). The military being externally funded by the government, does not have the same motivation.
So what is really different. Actually only number 8, “train employees how to provide the best service.” The military does not recognize customer service as a purposely-named concept and it does not train its people specifically to deliver customer service. Yet, it does employ the idea of great customer service.
So, there is really no significant difference in the delivery of customer service between businesses and the military. The motivations of each and the training of employees differ but the desire for great customer service remains the same.
Therefore, the military should take a page from the business playbook and specifically train for customer service.
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 Military “customers” are different. Customers are the uniformed and civilian-employed within that service (Army, Navy, Air Force, etc), other military services and contractors doing business them, the political establishment, and the American people. For the military in delivering good customer service, enemies of the state are not among its customers.
[Notes] From yesterday, common business customer service attributes:
- 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
[Note] Here are some good sites that discuss customer service. A search of the Internet turns up millions of these sites.