Dear Business Leader,
I have had numerous conversations with some of your employees who are frustrated with your company’s lack of service toward the customer. These individuals have usually been highly motivated and excellent workers who understand that the customer is the lifeline of the business. They understand that if customers are not happy, they will likely go somewhere where they will be happy… and that means your company will lose business. If your company loses business, it will likely lose money. If your company loses money, you may have to cut payroll. If you have to cut payroll, you may not need all your employees… I think you get the picture of what I am trying to say. Or do you? Because, it’s surprising how you still do not understand this “concept” of customer service. Sure you often say you want your customers to be happy, but let’s be honest, this customer “service” has gotten lost in number crunching and lean business practices. And, while these are very important aspects of running an efficient business, when they drown out the voice and importance of the customer, you can be sure that trouble is lurking.
With the rapid advancement of technology and the speed at which information is processed, we have certainly become tied to devices, machines and processes like never before. But, you must remember, however, that even with all of the technological advancements, there is still a live person on the other end of that phone, tablet or automated process.
And by the way, if you want to doom the morale of your customer-service employees, keep them frustrated and distraught over the fact that you care more about dollar signs and decimal points than the happiness of the customer. Once that employee morale declines, watch how poorly those formerly great, customer-minded employees begin to treat your customers. Then watch how unhappy the customers are with your company. Once the customers leave you for someone who is aware of their existence, you may begin to notice how poorly the business is performing. You will likely then be frustrated with your employees (the ones you have left) because they can’t seem to move the needle and make their numbers. I should note here that one of the most frustrating things for customer-minded employees is having a leader like you who is so far removed from the customer that they forget who really drives the business toward success: the customer!
So, assuming you share some of my sentiment, how can your company, that has lost touch with the customer, turn things around? It’s going to be very complex and time consuming, yet very simple. Here goes…
Step 1: Look in the mirror. The person you see is the one responsible. (After all, the buck stops with you, right?)
Step 2: Admit to your managers and employees that you have dropped the ball on this important element of business that is customer service.
Step 3: Once you have firmly and consistently set a new and improved standard for serving the customer, accept nothing less than excellence in this area from your managers/team leaders. Let them know that if they choose to ignore this new company path, their services will not be needed further. You have a new culture to promote and encourage, and this cannot be achieved by holding on to employees that don’t share the vision.
Step 4: Be passionate about the customer in everything you do. Serve them. Thank them for their business. Find ways to make them feel valuable.
Step 5: When your business recovers enough to where you need to hire new help, be sure you are crystal clear about what you expect in this area and all others. Be clear that deviation from this path is unacceptable.
Step 6: Treat your employees with the same type of serving attitude that you now treat your customers with.
Step 7: Watch your business flourish and make those numbers that you used to be consumed with so much that you ignored the customer.
Your Former Customer
P.S. – I used the term “customer” 24 times in this letter (well, now it’s 25). One of your former employees works at the place I now do business. They tell me it’s an important word.