We are in serious times and we need serious leadership. But far too often, those who hold these positions of influence are failing us. In this series I will explore the dilemna and offer my recommendations that can help you become a Leader that Inspires.
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Recently I had the misfortune of dealing with the
customer service department of my telco, TV , cellular and internet
provider. My costs had gone up unexpectedly and my inquiries led
to the fact that loyalty credits that I had been receiving had been
canceled. Customer service could only advise me what had
happened, they could not reverse it and so I was transferred to the loyalty
department. My complaint was dealt with by an employee with
20 years experience who told me that I simply did not understand
their need to make a profit. He transferred me to customer
retention. That is the group that grovels, apologizes and promises while
throwing cash at the issue in an attempt to reconcile.
By way of contrast, carpets are
dropped off at our store every two weeks. The delivery rep is
pleasant, he arrives on time and he smiles as rolls up the dirty mats
then spreads the new ones. He thanks us each time he is in.
provider bills me $3600 a year. The mats cost under $500.
The telco looks at the customer as an adjective. The mat
company views me as a noun. Do you see the difference?
The telco is
all about segmenting their service responsibilities. We are
treated as if we are something that is broken and needs repair.
Calls are directed to repair/support - home phone, internet,
mobility, television, customer. So 'customer' is simply the adjective
that describes the nature of service that needs to be addressed.
The mat company recognizes that they exist to serve the customer.
Delivering clean mats is not 'customer service'. Rather it
is serving the customer. We are of object of their affection.
This is not
just a matter of semantics. It is all about how you view your
client base. How often have you heard the refrain '...this
business would be a lot easier if we did not have all these customers
As the leader you must instill a sincere sense of urgency with regards
to how to treat your customer base. If your clients are
adjectives you are providing customer disservice. Your client's
satisfaction must be the object of all you do and that priority must
begin at the top of the house. If you are disconnected from the
client, regardless of how large your customer base is, that is
the message your employees will communicate.
When you treat your clients as adjectives, your employees with
throw the company under the bus whenever any dissatisfaction is
expressed. And why not? They are simply reflecting the
values you have established. When customers are the primary focus
then fewer issues arise because you will have anticipated and prevented
them from occurring.
As in most aspects of leadership, it is a matter of choice.
Is your customer a priority, the object of your affection.
Or are they a nuisance that, like a squeaky wheel, needs to be
serviced from time to time.