Guest Column | January 8, 2018

Who Cares About Your Customers?

By Noah Fleming, President, Fleming Consulting & Co.

Field Service Customers

In my third book Dealing With Difficult Customers, my co-author Shawn Veltman and I go into great detail explaining why some customers seem so difficult, and what you can do to dramatically improve your ability to create amazing experiences for all of your customers–including the most difficult ones.

With the release so close, what better time to talk about why there is such a disconnect between what senior executives think happens with their customers, and what occurs on the front lines.

Let’s be blunt - nobody cares as much about your customers as you do. 

All the hard work to create a remarkable experience can be ruined by one bad apple. In almost all the companies I’ve worked with, the employees don’t truly understand the type of experience that companies are interested in delivering to their customers.

Management tells employees things like, “the customer is number one!” But then management themselves often do things directly antithetical to those lofty statements of complete and total customer care.

You need to help your staff understand the vision and the requirements through each stage of the customer experience, and you have to be willing to put in the work yourself to make sure that you and everybody else is living up to that vision. It doesn’t have to be very difficult. The key is that they understand the experience you expect them to deliver and are empowered to do exactly that (even in times of trouble.)

Customer service is one of the key areas I’ve helped a number of my clients with, and one of the biggest areas of low-hanging fruit for most companies to reap the benefits of.

When I start working with a company and observing actual customer service situations, it’s shocking just how much fluctuation I’ll find in one single company. When I explain my findings to management and ask them about their company’s approach to customer service and customer care, I usually find they have one of five beliefs and understandings about the impact of customer service and how to best train employees.

  1. We tell our employees that customer service is important. In fact, the customer is number one, and they should all know how to provide great service.
  2. We tell our employees that customer service is important. We provide case studies and examples of companies doing it right. We occasionally bring in speakers and outsiders to help us better understand customer service.
  3. All of our existing employees and new hires receive standardized customer service training.
  4. Everyone in our company knows they should be providing fantastic customer service. We meet regularly to discuss our customer service efforts and provide regular training on improving customer service.
  5. We have specific policies, procedures, and processes in place to ensure everyone in the organization provides consistent and remarkable customer service, all the time, every time. We have specific customer service expectations and all employees and new hires go through detailed customer service training. We don't use manipulation or trickery with our customers. Instead, we provide the highest levels of service available, all the time. We are also constantly adapting to a changing marketplace and looking for new ways to improve our customer service efforts. 

Obviously, the last statement is the one I consider the most valuable. Too many organizations believe they can start improving customer service when it’s too late. They’re reactive. Reactive customer service is about training employees on how to diffuse negative situations, complaints, or feedback. There's obviously some merit to that, but we need to consider the whole experience.

Employees need to understand the type of holistic customer experience your company is attempting to deliver. When they understand this, and you give them the power to deliver on this, they’ll be much more empowered and willing to make decisions and act accordingly.

Take This Challenge: 

Which of the five beliefs listed above most closely matches your company’s attitude towards customer service?

If you think you’re at #4 or #5, what is your proof? How would you know if you weren’t?

If you were at #5 today–but standards started to slip–how long would it take you to recognize there was a problem and act on it?

Noah is the author of the landmark books, EvergreenThe Customer Loyalty Loop, and the upcoming release of Dealing with Difficult Customers. The books break new ground on customer loyalty, customer service, customer experience, and customer retention. Since 2005, Noah’s firm, Fleming Consulting & Co., has worked with clients around the globe to help them dramatically grow their businesses through sales, marketing, and service improvements. Learn more about Noah here. Noah is also a LinkedIn Learning Instructor–view his courses here.