You may be wondering what a clock has to do with customer service. Is it about the limited amount of time you have to make an impression and prove your worth? Or is it proving your Customer service skills to keep or gain a customer? Actually…yes, yes, yes, and no.
It’s all about how customer service begins to wind down because of complacency, disgruntlement, and complaining. The clock is to show employees how they are dependent on each other, and themselves, for COQS & their own performance, no one else to blame.
- The Beginning (clock with hands at noon)
In the beginning of all businesses, sole ownership or with employees, usually on opening day and continuing forward, customer service is upper most in the minds of everyone who works there. And is normally, for good reason, being nearly perfect and flawless. It could always use some improvement but… Then the newness wears off, customer service fatigue, & boredom begins to set in. Therefore the clock begins to tick lower. It’s still high with the same employees that you initially hired but they just don’t seem to be as enthusiastic.
- The beginning…of drooping customer service (clock with hands at a quarter after)
It’s been a few months or in extreme circumstances weeks (and yes, I’ve seen it in as few as a couple of days, customer service newness has worn off and it’s not taken as seriously as it once was. And why? Simple enough… If they’re contracted then the client and client employees are already disgruntled, complaining, the company/client decides to cut costs which includes raises and new equipment, and the policies are relaxed for someone ‘just this once’.
- The absolute bottom (clock face here with arms at half past)
It had to happen eventually. The company gets so bloated and the C-Suite is so disengaged and worrying about the bottom line they forget about customer service except as a peripheral program. And because it’s ‘not adding anything to the financial bottom line’ the necessary expenditures are cut.
Equipment is left to, hopefully just figuratively, fall apart. Pay raises are non-existent, supervisors, managers, and up the ladder are ruling their hordes from the top down. Policies & procedures are made and adopted with no thought as to the effect on the customers. And the changes, all for the worse, keep going on and on and on.
This type of attitude is called so why the hell should I care? It happens because virtually all employees within the company don’t want to do the right thing. Therefore it rubs off on everyone else, consciously or not. So what can you do about it?
- The upswing (clock with arms at a quarter til the hour)
Management begins a new program meant to reinvigorate customer service. It’s rolled out with much fanfare with prizes, training, supervisory visits, pep talks and all the rest. And this time ‘they really mean it’ that customer service is an integral part of their strategic vision.
The clock begins its upswing and marches on until it’s back to noon. The staff wins praises from customers, visitors, and everyone for their attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile as well as their helpfulness.
Will it stay this way? Some companies can do it and consistently maintain high marks when it comes to COQS. If you have an employee who shows that sort of commitment, then you need to do what you can to keep them around.
As for if the company will keep the resurrection going forward… that’s unknown. It comes down to whether management has the commitment to fully commit the resources to ensuring that it will succeed and continue.
This means consistently talking up the program, following up with employees with consistency on the program, counseling employees when they deviate from good service (with a good reason it can be excused), and continually training them on the program, albeit in small doses that don’t seem like training. If you need to reward them for good things then do so, only you know your employees well enough to know if they will positively react to those.
- The journey continues (clock with arms at 1 & 11)
This is where the clock needs to be at all times. Staying at a consistent level, it is vital that it stay at between 10 til and 10 after the hour. It can slip because of an employee but that employee needs to be either disciplined or terminated if they are that detrimental to your customer service program. Because an employee that is that detrimental to bring down the entire program can cause your company to go out of business.
Likewise, an employee that is helpful in building the program and ensuring its success should be recognized as well. Because you will always be building the program and putting more onto it than the original, those employees who provide exceptional COQS and help to move it forward need to be kept around.
But you never, absolutely never, want to let it slip to the bottom of the hour and begin to build the program from the ground up…again. That would do nothing but waste time, financial resources, & will usually lead to employee turnover which in turn leads to lower customer service levels which in turn leads to lost time, financial resources and employee turnover which will turn into…
(This is an excerpt from my book Customer Oriented Quality Service: The COQS Method, It is due out spring 2017)
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I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear