When I consult with clients who are seeking to improve their customer service, a typical on-site visit might last anywhere from two to five days. It only takes a couple of hours, however, for me to glean whether or not a strong customer service is embedded in the company's "DNA."
By listening to calls, interviewing employees, observing procedures, and just generally soaking up the company culture, I can usually recognize early on many different indicators of a strong (or not) commitment to customer service.
Here's why: If it's in the company's DNA, it's readily apparent. Long before I might meet with the Executive Committee to hear about their lofty vision, I'll see (and you would too) that this vision is carried through to every job role and pervades the various actions and tasks undertaken by employees.
Following are four key indicators that a company has successfully embedded customer service into their DNA.
- Customer-facing employees are poised, confident, and professional. They've been given the training and resources they need to do a great job and they've been entrusted to use good judgment and a diverse skill set to do the needful for customers. They enjoy their job and take pride in doing it well.
- Supervisors and managers (of the customer-facing teams) are continuously engaged with the people who report to them. They're "in the trenches" alongside their direct reports, providing immediate support, coaching, troubleshooting, or anything else. Further, they enjoy a strong rapport with the people they manage.
- Employees communicate with one another in a positive and efficient way. They recognize each other as internal customers and they show the same courtesy and respect toward one another that they do toward external customers (even if the tone is more informal).
- Employees are aware of the "ripple effect." That is, they understand how the quality of their work affects the work of downstream colleagues (and ultimately the company's external customers). They strive to meet their obligations in full and on time.
There are, of course, other indicators (many of which aren't discernible in the first few hours of a site visit), but the ones outlined above provide some pretty good (and quick!) evidence that a company is on the right track.