Customer Service from the C-Suite to the Mail Room


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Define the Culture

Recently I was interviewed about why leadership in the “C-Suite” should focus on customer service. The questions I was asked seemed very appropriate, as I hope the answers were. Then as I saw the questions and answers written out, I realized that if the questions were changed to include, not just the leadership of an organization, but virtually everyone in the organization, the answers would almost be identical. Leadership has a lot to do with creating the customer service vision, but everyone must own the responsibility.

The first question was this: From the C-Suite, why is customer service important?

What if we simply changed it to: Why is customer service important? Shouldn’t everyone know the answer? My response to the original question was: When we have competition that sells our customers competing products and services, why should they do business with us? What differentiates us? It’s not just the product. It’s the way we deliver the product. And, more than the front line, it takes the entire company, especially leadership, to create the ultimate customer experience.

The second question: So where do we begin to become a customer focused organization?

Again, shouldn’t everyone know this answer? It starts with the people on the inside – employees. And that means all employees. Recognize that customer service is not a department; it’s a philosophy to be embraced by everyone. Before you can become customer focused, you must become employee focused. Practice internal customer service. The “Employee Golden Rule” I’ve been preaching for years is to treat your fellow employees like you want the customer treated, maybe even better. What’s happening on the inside of the organization is being felt on the outside by the customer.

And the third question was: What can the leaders do to impact customer service?

The original answer had to do with leadership defining the culture and creating a brand promise that focused on customer service. But, here is where I take the position that when it comes to customer service, everyone is a leader. Outside of the decision to create a customer service culture, which comes from the top, everyone can impact the company’s customer service culture. Just as the C-Suite should model good customer service behavior, so should everyone. When people look at you, regardless of you being the CEO or the most recently hired for an entry-level position, would they want to emulate your actions? This is your opportunity to be a leader, someone that everyone respects and admires.

Leadership in the C-Suite will define the culture. They must set the course, prove it is important and model the behavior. Set the tone from the C-Suite. Participate in the same training that the rest of the employees do – and be visible about it. Model the behavior. All eyes are on leadership to set an example. This brings me to the idea that anyone can step up as a leader when it comes to customer service. Just as the C-Suite should model good customer service behavior, so should everyone. When people look at you, be so good that they would want to emulate your behavior.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.


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