There Are So Many Weeds It is Hard To See the Forest From The Trees – Leading Customer Service


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Leading a culture of service excellence involves a vision and the ability to clearly communicate that vision through the organization, all the way down to front-line staff. Because the scope of service is so large, however, management may feel as if they’re tackling a never-ending jungle of weeds and want to address a few tactics at a time. For example, they may want to address the greeting people use on the phones, as well as their overall phone etiquette. While this is understandable, it can also de-rail the potential effectiveness of implementing a service culture, for a number of reasons:

  • Employees who do not spend time on the phones, or the area you’ve decided to initially focus your attention, may erroneously believe service has nothing to do with them. They may then discount all future service messages, policies and training. In my book, The Service Journey , I talk about how my car dealer’s service center employees are very professional. They are polite and answer the phone professionally. Yet every time I go there, I feel as if I’ve been ripped off, as they will literally charge three times as much for service I’m able to get elsewhere, or charge me for an hour’s worth of diagnostic work for issues I brought to them, that were previously diagnosed elsewhere. Even for something as simple as replacing my side-view mirror, I received an estimated price of hundreds of dollars for something I ended up fixing myself with a coin and a minute’s worth of my time. Although the employees there are all nice, I clearly do not believe I receive a good service experience and avoid taking my car there. Service issues may stem from a policy, a product, or an employee interaction. To only deal with a small aspect of service without at least acknowledging that fact is a mistake.
  • Secondly, even if all your employees are on the phone, or all perform the task or tasks you’ve decided to initially focus, employees may learn a greeting and a few key words and falsely believe they are delivering excellent service. Anyone who has been around a while understands an employee may technically say all the right things, and yet do it without being proactive, or with an attitude or tone that still emits a less than stellar service experience.
  • Finally, when employees don’t understand the overall vision, the service program quickly becomes flat and tactical. Stellar service employees become disenchanted and bored. The initial excitement of implementing a change in culture quickly dissipates. Even more likely, new initiatives, products or policies may be introduced that are in conflict with the vision, simply because employees don’t understand it or are still being rewarded according to what was in place before.

Recognizing service is a change in culture, a change that impacts everything and everyone within the organization, every time, and setting the vision for your service objectives so all employees may work towards that vision simultaneously, helps align the organization towards your goal, thereby minimizing new weeds or service issues from occurring. It also recognizes that employees are going to adapt to a culture of delivering excellent service at different speeds. Instead of introducing initiatives to the least common denominator, leverage your star service employees to encourage and bring along the others on your service journey. It’s ok to focus on only a few items at a time that create large client issues. Just don’t lose site of the forest by focusing on just a few trees; and definitely don’t get lost in the weeds.


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