Written by Robert D. Sollars
You may be wondering what a clock has to do with customer service. Is it about the limited amount of time you have to make an impression and prove your worth? Or is it proving your Customer service skills to keep or gain a customer? Actually…yes, yes, yes, and no.
It’s all about how customer service begins to wind down because of complacency, disgruntlement and complaining. The clock is to show employees how they are dependent on each other, and themselves, to provide exceptional customer service, in their own performance, with no one else to blame…but themselves.
- The Beginning (clock with hands at noon)
At the beginning of all businesses, with sole ownership or with employees, usually on opening day and continuing forward, customer service is uppermost in the minds of everyone who works at the business. And is normally, for good reason, nearly perfect and flawless. It could always use some improvement but… Then the newness wears off, and customer service fatigue, & boredom begins to set in. Therefore the clock begins to tick lower. It’s still high with the same employees that you initially hired but they just don’t seem to be as enthusiastic.
- The beginning…of drooping customer service (clock with hands at a quarter after)
It’s been a few months or in extreme circumstances weeks (and yes, I’ve seen it in as few as a couple of days, customer service newness has worn off and it’s not taken as seriously as it once was. And why? Simple enough… If they’re contracted then the client and client employees are already disgruntled and complaining, the company/client decides to cut costs which includes raises and new equipment, and the policies are relaxed for someone ‘just this once’.
- The absolute bottom (clock face here with arms at half past)
It had to happen eventually. The company gets so bloated and the business owner/C-Suite is so disengaged and worrying about the bottom line they forget about customer service except as a peripheral program. And because it’s ‘not adding anything to the financial bottom line’, although it does add thousands to the bottom line – some are too stupid to realize it, the necessary expenditures are cut.
Equipment is left to, hopefully, just figuratively, fall apart. Pay raises are non-existent, supervisors, managers, and up the ladder are ruling their hordes from the top down. Policies & procedures are made and adopted with no thought to the effect on the customers. And the changes, all for the worse, keep going on and on and on.
This type of attitude is called so why the hell should I care? It happens because virtually all employees within the company don’t want to do the right thing. Therefore it rubs off on everyone else, consciously or not. So what can you do about it?
- The upswing (clock with arms at a quarter til the hour)
Management begins a new program meant to reinvigorate customer service. It’s rolled out with much fanfare with prizes, training, supervisory visits, pep talks, and all the rest. And this time ‘they really mean that customer service is an integral part of their vision.
The clock begins its upswing and marches on until it’s back to noon. The staff wins praise from customers, visitors, and everyone for their attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile as well as their helpfulness.
Will it stay this way? Some companies can do it and consistently maintain high marks when it comes to servicing the customer. If you have an employee who shows that sort of commitment, then you need, should I say must, to do what you can to keep them around.
As for if the company will keep the resurrection going forward… that’s unknown. It comes down to whether management has the commitment to fully commit the resources to ensure that it will succeed and continue.
This means consistently talking up the program, following up with employees with consistency on the program, counseling employees when they deviate from good service (with a good reason it can be excused), and continually training them on the program, albeit in small doses that don’t seem like training. If you need to reward them for good things then do so, only you know your employees well enough to know if they will positively react to those.
- The journey continues (clock with arms at 1 & 11)
This is where the clock needs to be at all times. Staying at a consistent level, it is vital that it stay between 10 til and 10 after the hour. It can slip because of an employee but that employee needs to be either disciplined or terminated if they are that detrimental to your customer service program. Because an employee that is that detrimental to bring down the entire program can cause your company to go out of business.
Likewise, an employee that is helpful in building the program and ensuring its success should be recognized as well. Because you will always be building the program and putting more onto it than the original, those employees who provide exceptional customer service, even if it bends the rules a mite, and help to move it forward need to be kept around.
But you never, absolutely never, want to let it slip to the bottom of the hour and begin to build the program from the ground up…again. That would do nothing but waste time, and financial resources, & will usually lead to employee turnover which in turn leads to lower customer service levels which in turn leads to lost time, financial resources, and employee turnover which will turn into…
This is an excerpt from my book Unconventional Customer Service: How to Break the Rules to Provide Unparalleled Service
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