We have all read articles about the importance of great customer service but have you ever wondered when we ourselves do not offer great service and why that might be?

Recently, I have had great customer service from a mains water supplier, a satellite television company, a broadband provider, a vehicle main dealership, a website firm, a window cleaner, a plumber and a heating engineer but truly awful customer service from a financial services company and from a very well known mobile phone company. When I analysed how the difference in my experiences came about I discovered a common denominator!

The providers of great customer service revolved around my needs whereas the truly awful service came from the organisations who had rules with which I had to comply which were paramount. Furthermore, I had not been told what those rules were and the staff were simply unable themselves to navigate through the complexity of their own company’s bureaucracy!

The lesson we might learn is the importance of excellent two way communication with our clients so both we know exactly what our clients expect from us and also our clients know any regulatory or other limitations or restrictions under which we offer our services to them. Sometimes in the interests of harmony or under pressure of time we do not get such clarity with our clients and hope everything will work out – it often does not! A little bit of effort or discomfort in getting things clear at the beginning can save a load of hassle later on. The irony is that the two organisations who gave me awful grief actually have excellent products!

The other notable difference was that the people who all gave me great customer service wanted me to give feedback on their performance. Such staff thereby have their performance aligned to my needs. Alignment goes to the heart of most successful companies. We have all heard the phrase “are we all on the same page?” but its importance is often under estimated. We need to be on the same page as our customers and sometimes giving staff some flexibility so our organisation can be more closely aligned to the customer can pay dividends. To do that though we need to employ great staff and trust them to get on with delivering for the customer. That approach can differentiate an average company from a great one….

David

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