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Friday, August 18, 2006

How serious is Your Organization about Customer Satisfaction?

In this day and age when the term “customer satisfaction” has become passé while customer delight, customer joy, customer surprise and customer ecstasy became the new sound bite, many companies are still unable to meet the minimum requirement of service. Many other companies on the other hand pay only lip service to the new sound bites by calling themselves customer –focused, or customer driven organizations. As they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You can have one helluva great looking pudding but if it doesn’t taste anything good, it’s practically useless. I’d like to share what I think are the manifestations of companies who are driven to customer satisfaction.

Inside-out Customer Orientation

A customer –centric organization pay attention to how each individual in the organization pay attention to customer service not only in terms of satisfying the external customer but internal customers as well. These companies believe that charity begins at home. If people are unable to make their internal customers happy, they are in no business of satisfying their external customers. A Customer oriented company orients every employee, yes all of them and not just the front-liners, about customer satisfaction. Maintenance department understand the value they bring in satisfying their internal and external customers and so do Accounting, IT, HRD and other departments. They measure the success of each department and individual to meet or exceed the expectations of their internal customers because the organization believes that this lead to external customer satisfaction.

Hardcore Customer Orientation

I have conducted a good number of training related to customer service and I am convinced that there are two types of workers; service-oriented individuals and self-absorbed individuals. The first ones benefit from the training and the others do not. A company who is serious about customer satisfaction believes that serving the customers begin with hiring the right individuals to do the job. They go to great lengths to find people who willingly embrace their service culture.

Here’s one perfect evidence of a true-blue customer oriented individual and one who is not. A customer enters a store; the winning service provider makes an eye contact with the customer, flashes his genuine smile to show that he appreciates the coming of the most important person in the business and assist that person to ensure that he or she will have a great time while in his care. The loser service provider who is busy mopping the floor upon noticing that customer comes in shouts “good morning sir! Welcome to our store!” without finding out if the person who comes in is really a sir, or a madam! He greets to show his supervisor that he follows SOP! Try to reflect on my anecdote and you’ll realize that there are people in your organization who are exactly like the loser service provider; doing things for the heck of doing and not to bring forth satisfactory results. Customer oriented organizations hire people with 4 C’s Concerned, Considerate, Conscientious and Cooperative. These are the true marks of hardcore service oriented individuals.

Listens to the Voice of the Customer

Let me borrow this term used by Six Sigma practitioners. Companies who are service oriented care about what the customers say, they listen and they adjust accordingly. They do not sit on their Laurels. They understand that customers’ foremost desire is “better “service and so off they go to find out how they can have “better” service.

Service Orientation is embedded in the Policies and Procedure.

A great service provider company to me put their money where their mouth is. They reward excellent service performance not only by the front-liners but by anyone in the organization handsomely and punish poor customer service with as much intensity.

Training and Follow-Through

Service oriented companies are constantly on the look out for opportunities to serve better. They equip their employees with breakthrough customer service methodologies and make sure that these same employees apply what they know at work. They pursue their unquenchable hunger for continuous improvement without let-up because they know that this is the only way for them to best serve their customers. Some companies with poor service orientation send their employees to customer service training, thinking (hoping) that they will come out of it as better service providers. The funny (sad) thing is that the managers send the front-liners to training but they do not send themselves! Most of the time, they don’t even care to know what the content of the training is! It is of no wonder why some training programs go nowhere!!!(I'm gagging now!)

The mark of a truly customer oriented company to me, walk their talk and fulfill their promise to their customers. They have a thorough appreciation of the importance of their customers and go through great lengths to show them their importance. They develop their skills in delivering products and service that meet or exceed customer expectations. How about you? What do you think are the true marks of a great service provider company? I’d love to hear them so drop me a note!!! :)

Till next!