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Is your Customer Service Culture out of Alignment?

What do tires and a customer service culture share in common? They both require alignment.

During my senior year of high school, I learned a valuable lesson about tires. While driving to school one morning in my 1973 Cougar XR-7 — with a Cleveland 351 engine, I might add — I experienced a front flat tire. Fortunately, I was near an auto repair facility, so I pulled into the shop. Following a brief inspection, the mechanic told me that I needed two, not just one, new front tires. Although the second tire wasn’t flat, the mechanic explained that, if not replaced soon, the second tire would experience a similar fate. When I asked why, the mechanic told me that the front tires appeared to be out of alignment, which caused the tire to prematurely wear. From that day forward, I’ve been more conscientious of ensuring that my tires are properly aligned and regularly rotated.

Like tires, customer service must also be aligned; otherwise, your customer service might “go flat.”

Let me explain.

Your business or organization probably has different departments. And, although having multiple departments isn’t, in and of itself, a bad thing, it nevertheless increases the risk of “misalignment” with respect to the delivery of customer service. For example:

  • Department A “dumps” customer service inquires or issues on Department B, even though Department A is sufficiently capable of resolving those inquiries or issues;
  • Department A says “this” with respect to a customer service question, but Department B says “that” with respect to the same customer service question; or
  • Department A feels as though customer service “is not our job,” but rather the sole and exclusive function of Department B.

If you suspect that any of these scenarios occur in your business, it signifies that your organization’s customer service culture might be “out of alignment.”

Ron Kaufman, a reputable keynote speaker about customer service, provides an excellent example of an organization that possesses an aligned customer service culture: Changi International Airport. Simply put, individuals working in the airport terminal — regardless of whether they work for security, an airline, a bank, or a bookstore — are capable of answering questions commonly asked by travelers, even if the questions do not directly pertain to their specific employer or department.

Let me repeat the last part because it’s a critical component of an aligned customer service culture: even if the questions do not directly pertain to their specific employer or department.

In fact, here’s Ron’s short two-minute video about the airport. Take a moment to watch it and to honestly answer the question Ron poses at the end of the video in regards to the customer service culture at your business or organization.

Even though your business might not be as complex as an international airport, there’s no reason why your organization can’t utilize similar strategies to ensure an aligned customer service culture wherein each and every employee — regardless of his or her job title, function, or duties — is fully and unconditionally committed to providing an exceptional customer service experience to each and every customer.

This week, take a moment to do these three things:

  • First, explain the importance of having an aligned customer service culture to everyone in your business, particularly your leadership team.
  • Second, create a list of the “Top 10” questions that each department in your organization is asked by customers: for example, your accounting department will generate a “Top 10” list; your marketing department will generate a “Top 10” list; and your customer service department will generate a “Top 10” list. Each department’s “Top 10” list will also include the appropriate answers and responses to those questions.
  • Third, use the compiled version of the “Top 10” list to train your employees how to respond to the most common customer service questions, including questions that relate to different departments.

This simple three-step strategy will not only help align your customer service culture, but it will also make it possible for your business to resolve common customer service inquiries and issues without the hassle of having to place customers on hold or transfer calls.

As always, have a “customerific” week!

Mark

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