Business Resolution #1 for 2019: Fix Your Customer Service! Part Three

Please see part one and part two.

Now that you have collected the customer service surveys, how do you process the information?

As the leader, go through the responses and write every one of them down. See if there are patterns. Your default should be that you will implement every suggestion that can be implemented at reasonable cost. Once you have a feel for the surveys, call the entire team together and discuss. Explain that great customer service is now the policy and that the organization cannot accept anything below "great" and, most of all, define for them what that means.

You may find that one or more employees do not give good customer service. If that is the case, you must (privately, of course) counsel them and emphasize that, from now on, their performance -- as perceived by the customers -- will be part of their annual evaluation.

As a tactical matter, implement every reasonable suggestion you receive. If, for example, you are physician and your patients hate that the magazines in the exam rooms are from the Reagan Administration, put your receptionist (for example) in charge of distributing fresh magazines once a week. Instead of Field and Stream, maybe have 2 or 3 subscriptions to People. Again, good customer service doesn't "happen." Fix the magazines (again, as an example) by making it someone's explicit responsibility.

I'm always amused by a physician's office I visit which allegedly has pretzels but the jar is always empty. Put someone in charge. Put up a sign, "If the pretzel jar is nearly empty, please tell the receptionist" or whomever you designate. Here's another idea: As a non-coffee drinker, why is it the only free drink? How about a soda fountain (hire one of those companies that comes in weekly to maintain it)? Your customers will be delighted.

Strategically, hire for customer service skills. This was a huge mistake I made in the early years of WeatherData, Incorporated. I would hire people almost entirely for their outstanding technical skills. I didn't realize that technical skills can be taught while customer service and people skills are mostly aptitude-related.

Here's an example. If you still have a human being answering your phones (and I hope you do!) and  you have to hire someone new, actually audition them with sample calls. Your receptionist makes your organization's first impression on the phone and in-person. Don't assume they come across on the phone in the same way they do in-person.

I could go on, but I hope all of this is enough to get the idea across. Build customer service into the culture of your entire organization. You want people so delighted after interacting with your team that they tell their friends and colleagues they should be doing business with you.

Customer service is so bad these days, it doesn't take much to stand out. Make it your #1 business resolution for 2019.


MSE Creative Consulting is a company dedicated to cultivating businesses and business leaders that achieve outstanding results for their creators and stakeholders. Turn to this blog for interesting content on a wide variety of topics.

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