Since I live, die and preach the Gospel of Customer Service for a living these days, lots of folks ask me why it’s generally so bad no matter where you go. I have several thoughts on the matter. But first—remember. There are some companies that give great customer service. My wife and I had dinner at Outback Steakhouse in Castleton last evening. The service was FANTASTIC. The manager stopped by to check on us and introduce himself. The waitress was warm, friendly and WELL TRAINED. So ALL’S NOT LOST!
But I’ll bet Outback worked very hard—at the corporate level and inside that specific restaurant—to give my wife and I such a pleasant experience! Did I say the food was very good as well?
For companies that have failed me lately, such as Sprint, Chase Bank, Sears, Brighthouse and others, I offer these bits of advice.
1. THINK LONG TERM RATHER THAN SHORT TERM. Cutting jobs, services, products and training seems to be the way to go in corporate America today. And it CAN contribute to the bottom line—INITIALLY. But NOT long term! I saw this first hand after O’Malia’s was bought by Marsh. All that happens when companies think short term is that you lose customers and your corporate culture is lessened.
2. PROCESS OVER PEOPLE. Too many companies (the banking industry comes to mind) have too many policies and rules that hamstring their employees and keep them from delivering even basic services. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for my Citibank Customer Service fiasco and you’ll see what I mean.
3. Failing to practice MANAGEMENT BY WALKING AROUND. Go back to the great 80’s book IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE and read the chapter on that topic. Get to know your people. Let them know you care about them and the jobs they do. It’ll pay big dividends!
4. Am adjunct to number three: “FIND SOMEBODY DOING SOMETHING RIGHT!” That was one of Joe O’Malia’s big beliefs. When you do, TELL EVERYBODY about it. You’ll find more folks wanting you to tell everybody about them!
5. PRAISE IN PUBLIC. CRITICIZE IN PRIVATE. Self explanatory ( I hope).
6. The late, great john Wooden channeled Joe O’Malia when he said, “I’m not looking for great players. I’m looking for players that make THE TEAM GREAT.” From the hiring to the training to the execution, make your employees/ associates part of your TEAM.
7. Finally, RETURN THAT CALL—UNBELIEVABLY FAST. Or email, Or text. You’ll be the only one doing it and that will give you a great competitive advantage. Besides, IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!
These are a few things service providers are failing to do. Without them, no amount of technological savvy can save them—LONG TERM.