Walking the Customer Service Walk

Walking the Customer Service Walk

How many businesses, kitchen and bath showrooms and design build companies claim that they are quality-oriented? Who goes to work believing today I am going to be mediocre? How many businesses would claim that they stink less than the competition?  Most likely, not too many, but the fact is that most companies might talk the talk, but few walk the walk.  They don’t offer a quality product or service despite claims to the contrary.  That’s why when a company goes above and beyond, surprises and delights us, they stand out.  They become remarkable because we want to tell others what they did and why it was special.

The fact is that most companies can’t write the checks to support their quality claims.  What does it take to stand apart and pay more than lip service to surprising and delighting customers? We know that snapping your fingers and hoping that everyone cares more does not work.  You may be surprised that providing monetary incentives and staff training and sharing successful practices do not work much better either, according to Ashwin Srinivasan and Bryan Kurey of CEB.  They directed a two-year study of how companies can weave a commitment to quality into the fabric of a company’s corporate culture. 

CEB found that nearly 60% of the employees surveyed said their companies don’t have a culture of quality, especially when it comes to coworkers who were committed to going above and beyond their daily tasks.  What does this mean to the bottom line?  Most showrooms that are not truly committed to quality are most likely spending tens of thousands of dollars annually more than quality-committed counterparts to correct mistakes that more often than not are preventable.   

The CEB survey found four characteristics necessary for a business to be quality-oriented.

  • Leadership and commitment from the top down
  • Effective and credible communication
  • Peer engagement
  • Employee ownership and empowerment

While CEOs, company presidents and showroom owners may talk a good quality game, there are often gaps between what is said and what is done.  Consequently, they send mix messages about whether quality is important.  

Credible messaging involves crafting different but consistent messages to meet the demographic and responsibility needs of different team members.  Some of your team members may better relate to the cost of having to make a service call than a purchasing professional who might not relate to the need to follow up on prospect emails.  There is no one message solution for all staff members.

Those on the front lines are often in the best position to recommend solutions to quality issues and problems.  However, most companies don’t provide the opportunity for peers to express their ideas.  Similarly, many employees don’t understand what is expected of them other than to do it right the first time.  They are not given performance metrics and therefore don’t have a quantifiable definition of success.  

Quality-oriented companies receive consistent messages and actions from leadership to support quality orientations.  The messages are customized to meet the needs of different workers and jobs.  Employees are involved in the quality equation and have metrics that they can use to measure their performance.

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