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Customer service starts at the top

Customer Service Starts at The Top

By far the most common comment we hear in our customer service training programs is “I wish my manager would take this course.”

Leaders are often perceived as not really customer-focused

The implication of these comments is clear. Employees see company managers and leaders as not really taking customer service seriously. Managers are perceived as thinking that customer service training is somehow beneath them. That it’s not really important.

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.

And disengaged leaders are the biggest roadblock to the success of training

There was an interesting study presented at the 2012 APD (formerly CSTD) annual Conference.  It found that the #1 roadblock between an employee learning a skill and actually using the skill was 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.

A CEO whom I’ve known for many years is a brilliant role-model for 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 champion 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.

No-one is too important to learn new skills

Organizations that deliver outstanding 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.

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