Everyone is in Customer Service

8 09 2010

…But possibly not everyone should be. Some of us are fundamentally unsuited to interfacing with customers directly, even though we may do a great job on their behalf. I still remember a company of whom I was a customer answering my query by simply forwarding the internal reply they had received from their programmer. This may have saved them time but lost them huge amounts of goodwill – the programmer had not understood the real question and had been pretty offensive in his dismissal of it and me!

This is a huge issue in situations where culture needs to change (hold on – I thought you said that was impossible last time? No, I said there are no instant answers short of firing all your people and starting again). If our new (or old) CEO decides that the organisation’s service culture needs to change, what is she or he to do?

It is good to make sure everyone knows that what they do impacts the customer – whoever they are and whatever their role. But it is even better to identify who your customer service stars are, analyse what makes them great – and then work like mad to reproduce that over and over again.

But how? 20% of your results will come from getting the stars to mentor those who have the wiring to be stars but are not yet for whatever reason. 80% of your results will come from deliberately hiring people who match the star profile. Fundamentally, you may be able to teach old dogs the occasional new trick; but you can’t teach dachshunds (new or old) to do back flips. So go hire new dogs of the yappy agile back-flip persuasion and knock yourself – and your customers – out.

You know you want to!

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