Your Team can either make you or break you.
There was an explosion of extremely poor customer service in the first 4 months of 2017. By far, the greatest level of poor performance was accomplished by the airline travel segment which forcefully extracted a paying customer from an airplane to make room for a non-revenue-generating employee and a gate agent who was rude/obnoxious to a female paying customer and who also came dangerously close to hitting her infant with a baby stroller. There was also the case of the frozen rabbit, and the pilot intervention into a customer brawl.
The airline industry has volunteered to be front and center in these latest displays of very weak customer service but they do not have the corner on the market. Remember recently that Wells Fargo opened accounts in their customer’s names that they did not ask for and that Volkswagen falsified testing data to make their automobiles more attractive to their customers. All of this begs the question, “where does leadership intersect with customer service?”
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Of late, it appears the role of leadership in these events has been to publicly admit their mistake, assume responsibility, and often lose their job. Is that what leadership is about with regards to customer service?
From simply a definition perspective, in businessdictionary.com, leadership is establishing a clear vision, sharing that vision with others so they will follow willingly, providing the information, knowledge, and methods to realize that vision, and coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members and stakeholders. Leadership is also stepping into the breech when failure happens and accepting responsibility and fixing the issue going forward.
From the same source, the definition of customer service is all interactions between a customer and a product provider at the time of the sale and thereafter. Customer service adds value to a product and builds enduring relationship.
Sometimes just relearning the definitions helps a leader refocus and engage their workforce to fix a broken or off-track process such as customer service. Hopefully, the companies mentioned above have undergone a significant emotional event through these experiences and come out the other side better prepared, trained, and more customer-focused.
The customer’s perception is your reality. ~ Kate Zabriskie
Customer service is a big deal in the 21st century and leaders need to use these recent events to ensure the organizational vision is known and understood by all employees. Do all employees know how serious the company is about their customers? I often told my workforce that the “customer is King” to reinforce the value of the customer to our organization and mission. There is great value in sharing the realities of what a negative event has on a company’s financial picture, brand recognition, and post-event performance. In the 2017 customer service world, every customer has ready access to video, the media is spring-loaded to sensationalize all negative events, and social media is moving at the speed of light to share these negative interactions. A company can be severely damaged if not ruined completely in this 21st communications, media, and customer service environment.
Good customer service costs less than new customer acquisition. ~ Aurorasa Sina
All leaders should take these recent non-examples to heart, capture the learning, and reengage their organization’s customer service environment. This is a time for hands-on leader action to make sure your company is not the next sensation and to ensure your workforce knows the expectations. We recently flew on Delta Airlines and witnessed a marked change since flying with them just a couple of months earlier. We noticed renewed energy, awareness, and clearly effective tactical engagement from the pilot, crew, and gate personnel. Our pilot came back to the cabin during deplaning and made eye contact with every passenger while overtly thanking them for choosing Delta for their travel experience.
What are you the leader doing with customer service today? Are you using these recent learning examples to ensure your customer service focus is where it needs to be?