[June 05, 2014] In Part 1 and2, the connection between customer service and leadership was discussed (link here and here). I proposed that customer service varies somewhat by organization; and while that is true, the differences are mostly superficial.
A great friend and retired military officer writes her customer-service philosophy … arranged as an inquiry. She asks, “The answer is yes, now what is the question?” In contrast, for a business sometimes it is just too easy to say “no”. Even as a senior military officer, I get many people telling me “no”, “you cannot do that”, or I get the classic runaround. My New York DMV experience is a good example.
Being denied or given poor service, access, requests, or help; stems from people with the wrong attitude. It also comes from laziness and ignorance. These are generally gatekeepers – seem to be everywhere and are notorious for saying “no”. These employees are not lead. Each case is a leadership failure. Not only are employees that provide poor service hurting the business, they are also likely to be dishonest in other ways. Leaders must take a personal interest in teaching proper customer service techniques and philosophy to employees.
Last year, Zogby Analytics released their customer service rankings of 150 large companies. Most of us have seen the list of the top 10 and these are largely unexpected because those companies have invested heavily in good service1. But, what were the bottom 10? Here they are based on the most getting a “poor” rating:
- Bank of America (bank)
- Bank of America (credit card)
- Dish Network
- Citigroup (credit card)
- Wells Fargo (credit card)
- Wells Fargo (bank)
- Citibank (bank)
- Discover Financial Services
No surprises here.
Good customer service starts with “yes” and treating the customer with respect.
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 Here are the top 10 in customer service:
- State Farm
- Trader Joe’s
- Lowes Home Improvement
[Notes] 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.