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Service Starts at the Top

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I've been reading the book "A Leader's Legacy" by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. While leadership is a separate topic here at the IowaBiz blog, the subject of customer service can't be adequately addressed without touching on the importance of leadership and its impact on the service delivery system of any company or organization.

In the book, Kouzes and Posner quote Nordstrom General Manager Betsy Sanders:

"I serve my associates so they can serve our customers well. Actually, I'm at the bottom ofthe organizational pyramid supporting them and not at the top with them supporting me."

In my years of working with companies at all levels from front line customer service representatives (CSRs) to the CEO's office, I've learned a lot about service. My experience and observation is that a company's service culture is rooted in the executive suite and not by the front-line reps.

Supervisors, managers, and executives who are struggling with the customer service equation in their own organizations should begin with a look in the mirror. Are you at the top of your service organizations pyramid as Sanders describes it or at the bottom?

Three good questions to ask key people "above" you in the organizational pyramid:

  1. How am I doing as a leader?
  2. What do you need from me so you can better serve our customers?
  3. How can I help you succeed?
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