By far the most common comment we hear in our customer service training programs is “I wish my manager would take this course.” Similarly, the most common comment in our service leadership programs is “The senior executives need to take this.” The implication, of course, is that many people feel their organizations believe that customer service is solely the responsibility of the people on the front line, and the only people who need to work on their leadership skills are supervisors and mid-level managers. Everyone else is simply above it all.
Sadly, this perception is too often also reality. The result, every time, is an irreparable body-blow to the effectiveness of customer service and leadership training.
A study presented at the 2012 CSTD Conference identified the number one roadblock between learning a skill and actually using a skill. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the employees themselves, but their direct superiors’ failure to champion and encourage the skills the employees had been trained on. The message employees get is that the training really wasn’t very important.
There’s a CEO I’ve known for many years who truly understands service leadership. He makes a point to attend at least one class of every customer service or leadership training course delivered for his company. He also mandates all the other senior leaders to do the same. His rationale, in his words, is: “How can we support the service and leadership behaviours introduced in the training, if we haven’t seen the training?”
It’s a great message, and one that’s not lost on the employees of the companies he’s worked for.
Organizations that deliver world-class customer service have one thing in common. Clear, consistent, customer-focused messaging throughout the organization at every level. It is a standard of performance by which everyone is measured. It is non-negotiable, and no-one is above it.
The Belding Group is a global leader in customer service training, and customer experience consulting and measurement