If you want your organization to grow and succeed long term, you’ve got to be a service leader. To do that, you’ve got to be “Relentless.”
It has to be a lifetime commitment. Lots of executives talk about their focus on customer service. Most can’t, or more likely, won’t sustain it. Over the decades I’ve been researching and speaking, it has become very clear to me that:
- The most successful organizations in the world—business, government, and non-profit—keep customer service at the center of their work.
- Those that are-the most customer-service driven, maintain that focus relentlessly.
- The biggest reason most are not customer-driven is that they are not willing or able to be relentless.
- Far more organizations could be much more successful if they had a relentless customer service focus.
I like to follow service leaders. All my research shows the value of a real service leader grows with lightning speed. In 2017 Chewy.com was sold to PetsMart for $3.3 billion. Chewy went public in 2019. It is now worth about $33 billion. Sales for the last quarter increased $2 billion. Sales are expected to reach $9 billion in 2021. Chewy.com added in the last year 5.7 million new customers and now has 19.2 million active customers.
They are open 24/7. Live people answer the phone in seconds. They have hundreds of employees that send out personalized birthday cards to the parents of their pets. A friend of mine said she uses Chewy.com because they love my pet as much as I do. I have them featured in my book Relentless. Very few firms understand the financial power of superior customer service and if they do most are not Relentless.
For years, I’ve watched organizations spend millions on advertising to attract customers. But then, by neglecting a single core principle, they drive their customers away. TD Ameritrade spends over $100 million on advertising and their customer service is terrible. In October 2016 they paid $4 billion to buy Scottrade who had awesome customer service and then in a matter of months drove customers like myself away with inferior customer service.
The problem is that when it comes to customer service, very few CEOs, and as a result, very few organizations are “Relentless”. Some focus on customer service for a month, a year; some for six years. Walmart quit after 18 years. Very few leaders are willing to be constantly, permanently focused on customer service.
A focus on customer service can’t be an add-on. It can’t be for a while. It can’t occur under one chief executive and then be forgotten with the next. It has to be part of the organization’s culture and it can’t be B.S. If you’re going to be successful, you got to be “Relentless”, today, tomorrow and for all time.
Too often, the financial people take over. They only look at numbers. They don’t care about the customer experience and customer service, so they cut those programs. Financial people rarely understand the importance of customer service, and so their businesses fail to be as great as they could be.
If your goal is to build an organization around the customer experience, you’ve got to be “Relentless”.
Amazon and Jeff Bezos are among the most “Relentless” in the world. Costco is “Relentless”. The management of Southwest Airlines stays “Relentless”. Vernon Hill of Commerce, Metro, and Republic Banks remains “Relentless.” Salesforce.com with Marc Benioff is “Relentless.”
The Mayo Clinic a not-for-profit organization is every bit as “Relentless” as any for-profit company in the world.
Once you open your eyes to it, you can find shining examples of organizations and leaders staying “Relentless” year after year. Is your commitment to superior customer service “Relentless”?
About the Author
John Tschohl is a customer service strategist and is the founder and president of the Service Quality Institute. John has been described by USA Today, Time, and Entrepreneur as a ‘customer service guru’ and has written several highly acclaimed customer service books. His latest book Relentless obsesses with providing exceptional service to your customers, a propulsive, self-directed passion for continuous learning, improving, and exceeding expectations in everything you do.