Many executives I meet with simply can’t see the writing on the wall, assuming because they haven’t heard many complaints about their service, everything must be okay. That’s a dangerous position for the present and the future.
Wondering if I might be referring to a company like yours? Here are the top ten signs your customer service is lacking.
#10. You have only one department that handles customer service. Think about this for a moment. No one else is responsible for service? If you have only one “customer service department,” everyone else in the organization will think customer service is someone else’s job.
#9. Your service department also responds to the name “The Complaint Handling Department.” The whole idea of “handling” customer complaints is out of date. Handling is for boxes and equipment. Caring and responding is for customers.
#8. When really important clients call, you don’t trust anyone except yourself to take care of them. If you can’t trust your people with your most important customers, you haven’t given them the necessary education and tools they need to provide great service.
#7. Your service standards were drafted while listening to an eight-track cassette. Your service might have left clients smiling years ago, but now it doesn’t impress anyone. You have to make service as innovative as products, constantly improving to create new and better value. “Out of date” is not a winning position.
#6. Someone wrote a song or created a popular website to tell others about your lousy service. Complaints are one thing. But when someone takes the time to parody service, you have more than a reputation problem; you have a service problem. You need to clean up the mess.
#5. You have bigger fish to fry than service. Companies who think great service is a perk are a dying breed. Do you disagree? What are all those youngsters at Zappos, Amazon (AMZN), and the Apple (AAPL) genius bar doing? Taking care of the customer. Still don’t believe that service counts? Here’s a company burial epithet that will soon apply: “Lost touch with customer.”
#4. Your employees compulsively follow procedure. Take a look around. How happy are your people with the company’s book of rules? How happy are your customers with their ability to flex and bend? If your employees have no freedom to make decisions on the spot, they have no empowerment to elate your customers.
#3. Your angry customers can do business elsewhere. Really? Frustrated customers are your best opportunity to create evangelists for your company. The beautiful thing about angry customers is they will tell you exactly where you’ve gone wrong and how to improve. Take your recovery one step further and you will create a lifelong fan. Letting an angry customer leave sends the worst message to your prospects and others customers, and the best message to your competition.
#2. You think you don’t need compliments or referrals. Complacency like this deserves to go out of business. It only takes 140 characters to tweet your business up or down, and even less effort to retweet that message to thousands more avid readers.
And the #1 sign your service is inadequate: You’re looking to see if you’re on this list. Great service providers know they’re great. They focus on service. They educate their team about service. They treat service as a #1 priority for profits and growth. If you’re reading this article with any question in your mind, consider it a flashing sign instructing you to focus on surprising and delighting your customers.