'Customer service is not a department, not a complaint desk, or a website, or a phone number, or an option on a phone menu. Nor is it a task or a chore. It’s the responsibility of everyone in the organization, from the CEO to the lowest ranking front line employee. In effect, everyone in the company is a customer service rep, because each of them has some impact on the customer’s experience,' declares Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney
60% of customers believe businesses have not increased their focus on providing good customer service. Among this group, 32% actually think companies are paying less attention. 33% of consumers cite a rude or unresponsive customer service representative as the most likely customer service issue to influence them to switch brands or companies. 26% cite being shuffled from representative to representative with no resolution of their issue, according to the most recent American Express Global Customer barometer.
Cockerell goes on to further state, 'As an executive, you may never see or speak to a customer, but you model how they should be treated with every interaction you have, with vendors, creditors, suppliers, and especially your employees. Treat everyone with sincerity and respect and it will trickle down to your customers.'
Sheila Z., from Wethersfield, Connecticut, spoke to recent service from a tire retailer via Yelp's online comment board. 'These guys are fantastic. When I needed a tire that was leaking they took it off, patched it and didn't charge me (I tipped the guy). Over the weekend I had a tire go flat and decided it was time to replace them all. They took me first thing this morning with no appointment and had it done very quickly for a reasonable price. They even drove me to my office so I could leave the car. The car was ready quickly and because they were having issues with the alignment machine, they want to call me next week so they can double check the alignment. Check them out for tires and wheels.'
Roy Lantz, author of 'The Care and Keeping of Customers', provides tips for developing a culture that service is everyone's responsibility:
- Praise. In what is still regarded as a classic book on workplace success, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman said the simple, easy-to-do act of paying positive attention to people has a huge impact on productivity. Dale Carnegie said it best, "Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise." In other words, tell 'em they 'done good'! I can hear you saying, 'Tell who they 'done good'?' Tell everybody! And praise is no more exclusively the job of the boss than service is the job of a 'Department'. 'My part means...' employees know it's okay to praise co-workers, other departments, vendors, bosses, because they recognize that everybody is a part of their success.
- Responsibility. Of all the phrases uttered in the workplace, 'That's not my job' is perhaps the most lethal to customer service. For that phrase, more than any other totally relinquishes responsibility. 'My part means' that people know that it is their job, whatever the job is. Everyone needs to know how to get the customer (internal or external) in touch with the right information or the right people. 'My part means...' employees know that they have the responsibility and privilege, to be part of solutions.
- Attitude. We've already discussed that customer service is an attitude, and not department. Dr. William James, the founder of modern psychology, put it best a century ago when he said, 'The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can control his life by controlling his attitude of mind.' And attitude is best defined as 'how we choose to respond' to situations. 'My part means...' people recognize that they cannot control everything that happens, late deliveries, co-worker absenteeism, angry customers, policy changes, but they can control their response.
- Involvement. In our seminars I'll frequently write 'TEAMWORK' on the flip chart and wait for the obvious response and corresponding groans, there is no 'I' in teamwork. Right? You'll never hear a 'My part means...' employee say 'them' or 'they' when referring to the organization, you'll always hear 'we' or 'us.' You'll hear, 'I'm sorry we let you down', not 'those people in shipping'. Why? Because in this kind of organization everybody is in customer service.
- Self-esteem. It's impossible to recount the times I've heard the expression, 'I'm just a customer service rep.' Though I've learned to suppress a pained facial expression, I cannot stop the grimace in my heart! Those six words shout that customer service is not valued very highly in the organization, that it is probably perceived as a necessary evil. Nobody is just an anything. As the great poet Walt Whitman observed, 'I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.' Service excellence requires that everyone recognize their importance in projecting the image of the organization, no matter their role. Self-esteem can be defined as 'How much I like myself.' Nobody can be any more effective in working with others than the degree to which they feel good about themselves. Let people know, tell and show, that they matter in the organization, and they will understand that their part does mean a lot.
- Empowerment. 'I'll have to check with...' is rarely heard from a 'My part means...' employee. Their goal, and the goal of their organization, is for them to be able to handle it. In those situations where they can't, when it is necessary to check with someone else, they'll say something like, 'I'll be happy to check with...', rather than 'I'll have to check with...', a small, but significant difference.
'Good service is good business.' -Siebel Ad