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Management Needs to "Get Dirty" in Customer Service

Csr Do you talk to your customers? Personally talk to them? Do you sit in an ivory tower or get down and dirty in the trenches?

Steve Krause had an interesting post about Craig Newmark (of Craig's list fame), who spends much of his time as a front-line Customer Service Representative - handling customers questions, concerns and issues. Steve goes on to explain why he thinks key people within the corporation should talk to customers - really talk to them.

I couldn't agree more.

There are three reasons I think top brass should regularly be in the trenches:

  1. It forces accountability and earns the respect of your colleagues. A manager at one of our clients demands that we monitor and analyze her calls the same as we do her people. Her team knows that she had higher quality scores than anyone on the team. She walks the talk. They respect her and follow her lead. By the way - they also have the highest, most consistent quality scores of any team we've measured in the past 15 years.
  2. You get to experience, first hand, what's working and not working. To hear complaints about the service delivery system is one thing. It's another thing to actually experience them as you sit with a headset on, or in front of a customer, trying to resolve a customer's issue. You will quickly learn what needs to happen for your customers if you spend some time working the customer service front-lines.
  3. You hear what your customers are saying and experiencing. There's no substitute for actually listening to the customer tell you about their experience, unfiltered, as you try to serve them. It is both humbling and empowering. Most executives think they know what their customers are experiencing, but those who spend time getting their hands dirty on the front-line have received it first-hand.

What difference would it make to your business if you spent a tithe of your time on the front-line?

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and NoPunyNerd.


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