Customer Service Is Your Raison D’être

A colleague of mine in Australia, Andrew Hollo, writes a weekly called 5 Minute Strategic Mindset. He opens his August 29, 2019, issue with “A quote that made me think:”

“Good customer service costs less than bad customer service.” Sally Gronow

While customer service is often seen as a department, it really should be the mindset of everyone in a company. If organizations and teams were to think about it, they might realize that everything everyone within the company is doing will likely have an impact on a customer. Let me share a true client story.

Some 20 years ago, I was offered an opportunity to help a company with their highly-configurable product problem. I turned them down 3 times. I just didn’t believe that they were serious about solving this issue even though the situation was dire.

Their largest customer hated them for all their business execution problems. This customer represented 80% of their $50 million business. They couldn’t get orders right, it took weeks or months to correct the order deficiencies; the situation was a complete mess. The employees felt entitled as they were a sole-source supplier–their customer had no alternative (or so they thought).

Finally, the COO called me and said I had to help them. Against my better judgement, I agreed to do a small project. As I interviewed people across the enterprise, the feedback ranged from “problem, what problem?” to “this is killing us!” A lot of people loved the constant fire-fighting even though it undermined the relationship with their #1 customer.

My instincts were right. They wouldn’t step up and agree to move forward to rectify the situation. The COO did not lead. He was too busy being “COO” to get his hands dirty reinforcing to his team that failure to correct the issues could be a showstopper for their jobs. And, so it was. The company shed 80% of their employees not long after my project was completed.

Looking back to Sally Gronow’s quote above, it was clear that good customer service costs a lot less than bad customer service.

If you have an antagonistic relationship with your customers, get serious about ameliorating the problems. Get help. Call me.

Photo Credit: Flickr ZZ Bottom

Thought for the week:

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos


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