The Way of Customer Service (part Two)

by Dean Lindsay (from THE PROGRESS CHALLENGE)

Customer service pays off – and not only in spades.  In the hand that we deal are the “hearts” of much happier customers and a more satisfying workday; the “diamonds” of higher pay and lower turnover; and the “lucky” clover (club) of more sales and company growth.  (That was forced, but fun.)

When we lose sight of the personal motivation involved in this game (ok, I’ll stop) of quality service, we begin to disregard the concerns of our customers.  Unfortunately for everyone, this makes them unhappy, leads to legitimate complaints, and could easily end in our looking for some other line of work.

Customer service is far too often a sticky slow web of surly, under-informed customer-service reps, reading in a monotone from a script.  Add to that the annoying on-hold music, outdated computer programs, and hard-to-navigate Web sites (none of which offer customers peace of mind or any of the other Six Ps), and you have the perfect Rx for customer disservice, also known as failure. Customers with concerns are left feeling stressed and helpless, and with the belief that companies truly don’t give a hoot about their well-being.

Just saying we provide good customer service doesn’t cut it anymore.   Every company, every organization says they provide good customer service, or great customer service, or even stellar customer service.

You never hear of a company touting their lame service.  “Our customer service generally sucks.  But we do have our good days, so how’s about buying something?”

Many adjectives have been plopped in front of the words “customer service” to help rally some form of interest in providing positive service to customers.  They include:  Astonishing, Superior, Exceptional, Positively Outrageous, Super, Multicultural, World-Class, Magnetic, Effective, Branded, Practical, Nonpareil, Breakthrough, Remarkable, Magical, Quality, Effective, Five-Star, and Not So Cruddy.

(OK.  I made up that last one, but you just wait.  Someone will snag it.  Next year you’ll see an ad for a hot new business book:  Not So Cruddy Service: 7 Habits of Barely Tolerable Service Professionals.)

A thorough definition of customer service is full of intangibles, and it is those intangibles that make or break a business.  In today’s competitive marketplace, service is the most important thing a company has to offer.

Progress in service leads to progress in sales.

Many companies win customers with special offers, only to lose that new business to their competitor by providing lousy service.  Quality customer service makes the all-important difference when two, ten, or twenty businesses seem to offer the same product or professional service.

The need is undeniable, the concepts are easy to understand, and the training sound, but still, proactive customer service is just not happening.  All expect good service but few are willing to give it.  It helps to widen our perspective as to what a customer is.

Anyone affected, positively or negatively, by the work we do (including our families and ourselves) can be thought of as our “customer.”  Within this wider perspective, we see that real service is based on integrity, care, and sincerity, none of which can be measured with money.  Nor can it be automated, no matter how soft-spoken and attractive the audio-animatronic voice may be.

Unfortunately, it seems that when an organization labels some of its professionals as customer-service reps or customer advocates, the rest of the organization assumes they are let off of the “customer care” hook.  Not true.

We are ALL in the customer-service business.  There is no other business.  In fact, there is NO business without the customer.

Every member of our organization is a “customer-service representative,” no matter what their title or job description may be.  We are all working for the man (or woman), and that person’s name is customer (or client, or guest, or partner, or stockholder, or employee, or team member).

Customers are not dependent on us; we are dependent on them.  But don’t get me wrong!  An attitude of service is not one of servitude.  It is an attitude of goodwill and good-willingness, a willingness to help others progress.

Earn and Maintain Customer Loyalty.

Offer the Promise of Peace of Mind.

Be Progress.

[email protected] – 214-457-5656

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