I despise the flippant attitude and approach of many people in a customer service role.
Or am I being too harsh?
If you run a business, how do you know what the customer service approach is for your employees? Do you:
- Watch them in action?
- Listen on their calls while sitting beside them?
- Read customer comments?
- Travel with a sales rep to observe a client visit?
- Use a mystery shopper?
- Conduct research on your customers to improve your understanding of them?
- Talk to all departments that interact with a customer?
You need to answer a very important question:
Would you buy from you?
If you want an honest opinion, you must answer honestly with a combination of your own assessment (subjective) and a view from the customer (objective) to create a holistic answer. If you do not take this approach, you may be missing important factors that might be contributing to not achieving your results.
I suggest that your “rock star” results are best achieved with a consistent approach over a long period of time. And there may be adjustments required. Darwin noted that it is those that adapt that will survive. As much as you want to be consistent, even boring, you must also look for ways to improve.
You should ask this question on a regular basis and ask your employees to ask this question. Do you have an environment, a customer culture, that encourages your employees to provide honest input to this question? Do you consider their ideas and suggestions and mine them for the gold that probably exists?
When was the last time you asked a current customer why they bought from you? If there is great trust they might tell you the truth. And they might not because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Using an outside researcher to collect this information typically achieves better results because customers are more at ease telling this independent person the truth.
The truth is what you must seek.
There is an old adage about poor reporting, which is, “never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” In business, you want to uncover the facts and reality and then craft this into the story that is your company and the relationship you have with your customers.
But, isn’t this hard work? You bet. And it is work that is required. If you only conduct some of these activities once a year, this is not likely a true reflection of the actual service delivery of your organization. While social media can also provide inputs and data points, you should carefully consider the source and context of the comments – good and bad – and not rely solely on a single source.
The more holistic you can make your knowledge and awareness, the better served you will be with information that can assist with your improvement as an organization. We each see from our own perspectives. And we can often be blind, or have blinders on, with respect to the things we see and hear. This human truth is why we need other perspectives and data points.
When was the last time you seriously looked at direct and indirect competitors to your business? Would you buy from a competitor instead of you? Remember, you are asking this objectively, so be prepared to accept the results. Don’t fight it or try to justify. Try to learn from what you uncover so that you can add that in to your planning.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that you try to duplicate or mimic what your competitors are doing. This “me too” approach is not a strong long-term strategy.
Hold up that mirror and take a close look. Do you like what you see? Or is there room for improvement? You must analyze big and small data to find those differences and advantages that you have, or that you have to create, to make sure you are “the apple of your customer’s eye.”
We all want to experience “service with a smile” and the only way this can happen is if you are honest with yourself and your company.