By Shep Hyken
ST. LOUIS — There are a number of reasons why companies fail at customer service.
As I read dozens of articles and numerous books on the topic throughout the year, as well as conduct some of my own research, I've found that there are some very clear reasons why this occurs. Sometimes it's not what you are supposed to do, but what you should avoid doing.
If you've been following my work, some of this article may seem like a review, yet we must constantly be reminded of these reasons. So while there are many explanations why companies fail at customer service, here are five common ones:
1. There is no clear definition of what customer service looks like in the organization. You can't just say, “Let's give great customer service.” You have to define what it is, what it looks like and what you want the customer to experience. It has to be crystal clear.
I just worked with a company that created a four-word mantra, as I like to call it — a short one-sentence phrase that is easily understood and remembered: “Put the customer first.”
But to just say it is nothing more than lip service. This company created an entire program around those four words. Every employee is participating in training sessions and the effort will be ongoing, not for a few days or weeks, but hopefully for years to come.
2. Good people are in the wrong jobs. A customer service culture starts with the people in the company or organization. And there are plenty of good people out there, but some of them simply aren't suited for a truly customer-focused organization.
It starts with hiring the right personalities to fit the culture. But what about current employees? Make sure they buy into your customer service definition and are ready and willing to be a part of the initiative.
3. There is a lack of proper training. Training is not something you do one time. It's not something you teach during orientation and then never bring up again. It's an ongoing effort. The best companies have ongoing reminders and training sessions to keep customer service front of mind with all employees.
4. They treat customer service like a department. For a truly customer-focused culture to work at a business, everyone has to be aware of how they impact the customer's experience.
One of my favorite sayings has always been that customer service is not a department. It's a philosophy to be embraced by every employee, from the CEO to the most recently hired worker.
5. Management treats employees one way and expects the employees to treat customers a different way. The behavior of leadership and management toward employees is incongruent with the customer service initiative.
The remedy is my “Employee Golden Rule,” which is to treat employees like you want the customer treated — maybe even better.
Shep Hyken operates St. Louis, Mo.-based Shepard Presentations L.L.C. and is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author who periodically contributes columns to Tire Business. He can be reached at 314-692-2200 or via his website at hyken.com/. Information on his customer service training programs is available by clicking here. This piece originally appeared in Shep's e-newsletter, The Shepard Letter. Follow him on Twitter: @Hyken