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Customer Service is a Trickle-Down Proposition

Boardroom_2 I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with companies of all shapes and sizes. It's an interesting opportunity to study what works, and what doesn't, inside of corporate cultures.

A classic story handed down through the generations in my company tells of two of our group members who were invited to make a presentation before the board of directors of a major retail business. The board was discussing strategic issues about their brand: who they were, who their customers were, and what their plan was for the future. One of the board members piped up:

"Let's face it. We sell [expletive deleted] to nerds!"

Our group ended up working with this company for a few years, and it was interesting to witness how the attitude of the board trickled-down through the entire organization. The corporate culture was never able to overcome an attitude of negativity surrounding their company, their products or their customers.

Great customer service begins inside the company. It begins inside the board room and the CEO's office. How a company values and treats its' employees sets the stage for how the employees treat the customers. Here's a few lessons that I've taken from this principle:

  1. If you want to work for a great company, look at who is running it, what they believe, and what they exemplify in their own actions.
  2. If the leadership of a company is not committed to creating a culture of customer service and continuous improvement then you will continually fight a losing battle on the front-lines.
  3. If a company is going to change it's culture, it has to begin at the top.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Alex

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