Most companies want to increase the quality of their customer service – do you?
Given most companies want to deliver better customer service, it seems like the right thing to want to do the same, right? I mean, imagine the response to a CEO who declares, “No! We’re not interested in delivering better customer service!”
The reaction probably wouldn’t be positive. An interest in delivering better customer service seems like the right thing to do – but having good motives really does no good at all, unless you know why you’re motivated to change.
Defining and identifying the “why” will do wonders for your efforts.
What about your current customer service? Is it responsible for the lack of results you are experiencing? What aspect of great customer service would give your company “the biggest bang for its buck” if it was improved? In what ways is the quality of your current service interfering with your ability to accomplish your ideal business goals? All in all, why are you driven to improve your customer experience?
When I’m consulting with companies over this question, they typically answer this question by regurgitating stats that I’ve given them. They know the bottom-line benefits of service improvements, so it’s easy for them to know why it’s important… but that isn’t really what I’m asking. I’m asking a much more personal question that should elicit a much more personalized answer. In what ways will improving customer service at your company give your company a better chance at reaching the results your company aims to achieve?
Do you get it?
Your answer should be unique to your company’s situation. If everyone is simply inspired to deliver better service, so that their company’s bottom line improves… well, that’s too ambiguous. How can your employees take a stake in its outcome? How can you tangibly measure the progress? How can you know whether you’re doing well on accord of your own standards or simply surpassing competitors?
You can’t give your employees a reason and a way to focus their efforts, you can’t measure anything concretely and you can’t assess your progress without clarification from the beginning. Knowing great customer service influences bottom-line results is a very different scenario than knowing how customer service improvements will drive bottom-line increases. In the first case, you understand they are connected – in the second case, you know why they are connected. And if you know why, you can take action.
I’ll conclude with an example to drive this point home. The Holiday Inn and the Waldorf Astoria could both want to improve service, but why and how they plan to do this should look dramatically different given the Holiday Inn is a standard hotel chain, whereas the Waldorf Astoria is a five-star, luxury hotel. Both can still achieve their goals because their audience and hotel experience vary greatly, but if the Holiday Inn only knows that it needs to improve its service because other hotel chains are… well, the Holiday Inn doesn’t have much direction or authentic investment behind the effort.
But if the Holiday Inn knows that its usual customer is NOT the typical Waldorf Astoria customer, well then, it can start to determine what the Holiday Inn customer wants, needs and expects from the Holiday Inn. It can start to define goals, priorities and problems within the Holiday Inn context, rather than attending to every possible thing any customer of any hotel chain could need, want and expect from any other hotel chain.
Knowing why customer service is important to your company may seem like an intangible piece of information to identify and define, but in the long run, understanding this detail makes your efforts much more focused, streamlined and fruitful. Dig into why customer service improvements matter to you, so that your efforts are purposeful and prosperous.
About the Author
Rick Conlow is CEO & Senior Partner of WCW Partners, a performance improvement company. Based in Minneapolis/ST. Paul, Minnesota, WCW work with clients in a variety of industries worldwide to help them excel in sales, service and leadership, facilitating business growth and vitality. Rick is author of Excellence in Management, Excellence in Supervision and Returning to Learning.