Will the real 'customer focused' company please step forward?
Image by Metro Transportation Library and Archive via Flickr
I ask business owners, managers, and sales people this question all the time. "Why do your customers do business with your company as opposed to one of your competitors?"
"It is our customer service!"
This is how far too many business owners, managers and sales people respond. But consider the logic. If five competing business all provide "great" customer service, the fact is that "great" is the new "average." Thus, if no one stands out on the basis of their "above average" customer service, no one can actually claim that their customers select their company (and de-select the rest) based upon customer service. The truth is that for most businesses, delivering good customer service is really means that they do their best to not deliver bad customer service.
So what does the REAL customer service company look like?
- The company vision explicitly customer oriented.
- The core values of the company are defined and congruent with a customer service focus.
- Both the greater vision and core values are known and understood by everyone in the company.
- In addition to past performance, these customer service oriented core values are key to all decisions having to do with hiring, firing, rewarding and recognizing.
- The company is organized and structured around customer service.
- Customer service goals are in place and are constantly measured and reported.
- All the processes are designed around the customer, they are documented, and they are consistently followed.
- Customer service guarantees are in place and honored.
Are these things true of your company? If not, it isn't a bad thing. It does not mean that you have abandoned the ideal of providing good service to your customers. It merely means that as a company, you have chosen on purpose or by default to differentiate yourself another way. Perhaps it is cheapest price, the best technology, the biggest brains, or the most choices.
If not customer service, to what does your organization have this level of commitment such that it is, or can be, the real reason customers choose to do business with you?
We would love your comments about what companies you think have clearly been able to distinguish themselves around customer service in Iowa.