There are a number of reasons why companies fail at customer service.
As I read dozens of articles and books on the topic throughout the year, as well as conduct my own research, I've found 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.
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:
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 to all employees.
I recently worked with a company that created a four-word mantra, as I like to call ita short one-sentence phrase that is easily understood and remembered by everyone within the business: Put the customer first.
But to just say it is nothing more than lip service. This firm created an entire program around those four words. Every employee participates in training sessions and the effort will be ongoinghopefully for years not just days or weeks.
Good people are in the wrong jobs. A customer service culture starts with the people in the company or organization. There are plenty of good people out there, but some 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.
There is a lack of proper training. Training is not something you do just once. It must be an ongoing effort, with continuous reminders along with regular training sessions to keep it front of mind.
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 been that customer service is not a department; it's a philosophy to be embraced by every employeefrom CEO to the new hire.
Management treats employees one way and expects them to treat customers a different way. That behavior of leadership and management toward employees is incongruent with a good customer service initiative.
The remedy is my Employee Golden Rule, which is to treat employees like you want the customer treatedmaybe even better.
Shep Hyken, a customer service expert and professional speaker who operates St. Louis, Mo.-based Shepard Presentations L.L.C., periodically contributes columns to Tire Business. He can be reached at 314-692-2200 or via his website at www.hyken.com. This piece originally appeared in Mr. Hyken's e-newsletter, The Shepard Letter.