As someone who understands the importance and champions the cause of customer service excellence, I am truly amazed that this valuable function is frequently buried deeply within an organization. The department that deals with the company’s most important asset, the customer, rarely has a “seat at the table” or a sufficient voice within the ranks of senior management.
More and more products and services have become commodities. However, customer support and communication can clearly be a meaningful differentiator. Especially given social media’s role in amplifying a customer’s satisfaction, (and dissatisfaction!) companies need to realize that customer service has become the new frontier. It’s the new game in town.
Zappos embraced customer service excellence early on. And their customer service policies are why such a high percentage of their customers say they love them. My son told me the other day that they made him a VIP customer and gave him expedited shipping. That extra service made my son feel special and, equally as important, loyal. At Zappos, not only does the customer service department have a ‘seat at the table’, it is one of the CEO’s prime directives. Can you imagine Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, saying anything but, ‘customer service will be the most important function within our company’?
For companies that want to survive, they need to rethink their customer policies, service philosophies and who they are placing on the front-line. They need to invest in hiring the right people, compensating them appropriately and treating them with respect. Consumers appreciate associates who appreciate them and associates greatly appreciate companies who appreciate them.
In Peter Shankman’s best selling book, Customer Service – New Rules for a Social Media World, he says, “Think about it. Customers appreciating employees for appreciating customers! It’s like creating perpetual motion.”
The battle lines are drawn. A company’s best tool in their arsenal for building loyal consumers is having front-line associates who can make a difference. Make sure that those responsible for delivering exceptional customer experience have a seat at the table.
Where does the function of customer service report to in your organization?