In 2013 A Texas Representative proposed a really interesting Bill to help enhance customer service in the government. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s Federal Customer Service Enhancement Act would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish customer service standards for employees in all federal agencies.
It’s a great idea, although a little sad that this has to be an ‘Act’ that needs to be ‘passed.’
In the 20+ years our company has been consulting, training and measuring customer service, I’ve seen some amazing success stories, and, sadly, far too many initiatives that accomplished very little. This doesn’t happen by accident, and the outcomes are categorically predictable. There is a definitive, guaranteed recipe for success for companies trying to achieve Outstanding Customer Service performance. It works every time – but few organizations actually do it. Without exception, here are the six things successful organizations have done:
1. Identified all their customer touchpoints
2. Done a customer service gap analysis on their Policies, Processes, People and Practices
3. Set non-negotiable customer service standards that encompass all touchpoints
4. Trained all their employees so they understand the standards and have the tools to meet them
5. Measured customer service performance on an ongoing basis
6. Put in place clear positive and negative consequences to reinforce the standards
It’s not rocket science, but it is a lot of work. It requires expertise, and unwavering championship within the highest levels of an organization. Unfortunately, too few organizations take a strategic approach to achieving their customer service goals.
The part where companies most often fall down is in setting non-negotiable standards. For a variety of reasons, we are far too comfortable making exceptions and accepting excuses – both of which negate the concept of ‘non-negotiable’. I think companies should take the cue from Mr. Cuellar, and pass an ‘Act’ of their own.
One of the things that always surprises me is how organizations have no qualms about setting and enforcing standards when it comes to financial issues, but don’t have the same resolve when it comes to other core business practices. Countless studies done over the last five years point to the tremendous strategic impact customer service has on every aspect of a business. So why is this so difficult?