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Creating A Customer Service Culture

Thursday 21 September, 2000
by Sheila Roberts
How responsive is your organisation's customer service? Take this quick quiz.

If you can answer all the questions in the affirmative then your company is most likely meeting or even exceeding your customer's expectations. If not, you could be losing customers and not really know why.

  1. Customer service standards are clearly defined and applied consistently in all parts of the company. You don’t want the hard work done by the sales department to be unravelled by an unfriendly Accounts Receivable department.
  2. All departments work harmoniously towards a common goal and there are no silos.
  3. Communication flows freely in all directions and frontline staff are kept aware so that they can answer all customer queries. For example, are all sales and customer service staff aware of your advertising program?
  4. Access to key personnel is easy and operating hours are designed to meet customers’ needs.
  5. Everyone lives by the philosophy of “The Buck Stops here”.
  6. Presentation of everything (and everybody!) is exemplary.
  7. Everyone takes responsibility for the quality of customer service - all of the time.
  8. Customer feedback is continually sought - and acted upon.

So what can you do if your score is less than satisfactory? It is time to stand back and take a long hard look at management involvement and company procedures. Good service does not happen by accident. It is carefully thought out and reviewed regularly.

Some tenets of creating a service culture are:

  • Management visibly supports superb service and “walks the talk”
  • Management ensures that staff have the resources and skills to deliver the service promise. Ask staff what gets in the way of them providing excellent service
  • Staff are involved in setting service standards so that these are realistic and engender their commitment
  • Regular training is a high priority
  • The customer service message is communicated consistently and clearly
  • Service recovery procedures, eg responses to complaints, are simple to implement and based on the needs of the customer rather than being bureaucratic and focused on the needs of the company
  • Success is celebrated

Try the quiz out on your team at a specially convened customer service think tank. You might be surprised at the results. Staff will know what your customers value as well as the service "hot spots". Just ask them for their suggestions for improvement and you are well on your way to developing a customer focused organisation.

After all customers make pay days possible!

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