The basic secret to customer excellence in customer service comes down to one simple question. How often does the CEO talk to the business customers?
We have been in the business of training organizations, companies and individuals on customer service for over 15 years in the Asian and European markets. Interestingly, people keep on asking us for that one secret key to success.
It requires more than knowing the customer excellence definition. Many experts expect us to provide an elaborate diagram of some complex algorithm or provide a long and lengthy conversation about culture and processes. But when you’re talking customer excellence it’s entirely the opposite. And when we do give the answer, many of our clients and customers are really taken aback.
How often does the CEO interact with customers?
The basic secret to real customer excellence lies in one question alone. How often does the CEO talk to the business customers? Yes, this is the only question we believe will answer all the other questions and be the sole barometer in the break or failure of the customer life cycle management of any organization that is striving for customer excellence.
The CEO is the ultimate engine driver and harbinger for the basic unit of customer satisfaction – the smile. The smile resonates when the customers realize that it comes from all spheres of the organization especially the CEO. That’s a critical component to achieving customer excellence. It’s absolutely required as part of your customer excellence strategy.
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Think about it. The model is clear. In fact, it is crystal clear. People at the bottom whom we consider as foot soldiers have to take care of the customers. That is the job and that is what they are getting paid to do. Also middle management is responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of the tasks, transactions and even the overall cradle to grave customer expectation model. Excellence in customer service training is a must. Without that constant review, customer excellence isn’t possible.
How much time does management spend on customer-focused activities?
The ultimate ability to deliver customer excellence comes down to the mindset and execution of the leaders at the top. Customer service excellence requires buy-in at the top. How many hours in a day does he spend listening to his or her customers? How many visits does he have lined up in the months ahead? How many customers are waiting to meet the chief operating officer?
Let me shed some interesting light on this. If you were asked to define excellence in customer service, what would you say?
In a recent training session with a large international pharmaceutical company, the concern was that the input from the customers was not being heard. Customers were giving feedback about package, pricing and service changes. When the CEO was asked how many times he has heard it directly from the business customers, his reply was silence. You don’t need people to tell you how bad the business is. You can get it from going directly to the heart of the issue – the voice of the customer.
Research on factors that improve customer satisfaction
In our research on customer satisfaction, the better the CEO is in dealing, handling and fostering a long term growth with the customer, the better the long term goals are in terms of revenues, opportunities, and customer excellence ratings. People watch and see. If the CEO is busy meeting and greeting the customers, then the management realizes the importance of the customer and where the company is going. In fact, we recommend the CEO to take along other people from the organization to meet the customers. It is a wakeup call for many people worldwide.
Ensure that the CEO is busy migrating his work load into the customer domain. Without it all the culture processes and procedures do not work. If you want to be known as a leader in customer excellence, it’s not just the people at the front that need training, it requires the combined effort from everyone in the organization.