Many people have said variations of this – from George Santayana to Lemony Snicket – and I’m saying it today because it reminds me of a question I was asked recently.
A French financial services firm interviewed me about customer service and client retention for their internal publication. One of the questions addressed the many seemingly excellent customer service strategies and initiatives that don’t work. Essentially, why do they fail?
Here are four key reasons I provided:
- Leadership Doesn’t Really Buy-In – Although leaders may talk about the importance of customer service and the client experience, they make decisions based on the product, they create incentives focused on new sales only, they sign-off on strategies that focus purely on reducing cost per unit. They talk the customer service talk, but their structures and incentives don’t align with service and retention goals. Here’s an example if you haven’t heard the recent Comcast customer retention call?
- The Company Doesn’t Dedicate Resources – While an organization may care about the customer, if there’s no designated individual, division, strategy, or budget that focuses on service and retention, it won’t work. Sustaining an organization-wide effort is impossible if the initiative is 5% of the jobs of many without ever being the totality of the job of at least a few people in the organization.
- The CX Definition is Limited – A small business owner laughed at me once when I brought up the concept of Internal Customers. He didn’t believe that employees should view and treat each other as customers. He didn’t believe that the customer experience (CX) applied to anyone within the corporate walls. He thought culture was irrelevant in driving a great service experience and retention. Zappos would disagree.
- Tactic Supersedes Strategic – Too many companies conduct a survey, change a computer system, start a call center, send out memos telling staff to answer calls in 3 rings, and then expect their customer service scores and retention rates to jump off the charts. For organizations to be great at customer service, they need to view their organization as a system – where all the people, processes, programs, and technology interrelate and work for the good of the customer and company. Have a strategy for sustained service excellence and growth; tactics should then flow from that strategic view.
Align Around the Customer, Dedicate Resources, Look Within, and Think Strategically.
Ensure your organization doesn’t repeat the failures of business history.