“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say, I just watch what they do.”
The first week of October every year in the UK and the US is Customer Service Week .
While the smart folks think about how to provide effective customer service every blessed day, the amount of high-quality postings and pondering around this important topic this week is impressive. Here is my humble contribution to the hub-bub:
At first, the above quote and image may seem to be contradicting each other. After all, Carnegie says to not pay attention to what people say, while the animated message is all about saying something. When we consider customer service, I do not believe a dissonance is present.
We are all very good at creating words which describe who we are and what we do (at least from an aspirational perspective). Words are often the first point of contact between you and those with whom you wish to engage in transactions. What you say and how you say it make a difference in three important ways.
Words Matter . . .
Our words are how we are introduced to our colleagues, customers, and to the public. What you say:
… sets the tone for the initial interaction. Whether a second interaction occurs is completely dependent on how consistent you are with your own vision, at least in the customer’s eyes.
… spurs you to live out that vision. People will spot a phony message either immediately or after a brief experience. We have an obligation to live up to our aspirations, as described by the words we choose to talk about ourselves.
Actions Matter . . .
Words are only words without solid action to back them up. When we describe an organizational culture in a certain manner, we then have to act out that aspiration in tangible ways. If your customer service mantra is some variation of “People Matter”, you best be proving that every single day in every single thing you do.
When the espoused vision does not match the daily “grind”, we experience a version of what the psychologists call “cognitive dissonance”. Sometime is not in sync and this affects direct customer interactions, which in turn reduce customer satisfaction and sales, which then lowers morale and engagement, and at some point, the future of the organization is in question.
Not just the front-line worker who talks to the customer, not just the manager, but the company and everyone who is connected to it.
The old trite saying that “Customer Service is Everyone’s Business” is neither trite, old, or just a saying … it’s a business reality.
Follow-Through Matters . . .
Once the words are just right and the actions have been taken, the next vital step is to keep saying and doing what your heart of hearts tells you is the best customer service delivery possible.
If you say the right things and do the right things, just keep doing them … until doing the right thing in every situation becomes second nature and really is embedded in the organizational culture.
Create a situation where the only responses to a suggestion that we violate or “bend” what you do well are raised eyebrows and rolling eyes, following by complete silence as that suggestion lies on the floor, gasping for breath, as it dies a lonely and unlamented death.
Above analogy based on my personal experience … yours may vary. Feel free to come up with a better one to illustrate a culture of zero tolerance for anything less than saying what you mean to do and doing what you say you are doing.
I wish I could say that this was posted from a hammock gently swinging in the refreshing early fall breeze somewhere in the Heartland .…
Shameless Promotion Department:
If you want to really “up your game” toward excellent customer service, you will not find a better source than Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, who I quaintly term “The Queen of Customer Service”. She gets it on a deep level and is devoted to both shining a bright light on examples of effective customer service skills and sharing her experience and knowledge with others to create disciples for effective customer service. It just does not get better than Kate and her organization.
Disclaimer: Got not one penny or other form of payment for this endorsement. Will not receive kickbacks or promotional “gifties” for doing this. Do not recommend people or organizations unless I trust them to a very deep level.