Guaranteeing Customer Service Failure

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” – Henry Ford

Not being able to find a remedy and only finding fault with each other in a team, any team not just the customer service team is a sure to guaranteeing customer service failure. Teams and customers win when companies are structured; have the right direction, leadership support and processes. Winning does not happen magically or by fluke. Each person within the company must be assessed and utilized based on their skills, abilities, talents and limitations. The teams must be encouraged to forge team spirit and communicate well with each other. When we look specifically at the customer service teams a lapse on any of these aspects, it will lead to the path of guaranteeing customer service failure. This is turn will guarantee the failure of the company as a whole.

‘Building a team’ effectively means having everyone understand the individual, team and company goals. Supporting and communicating with each other within the team and with other teams allows each person to understand and respect expectations and these components together make for a robust and cohesive teamed that is consistently geared towards exceeding customer needs and demands. It will be a team of winners who will ensure that there is no guaranteeing customer service failure rather quite the opposite. Understanding some of the stumbling blocks in building effective customer service teams (true of other teams as well) can help in raising the bar on customer service:

– Failure in setting guidelines and rules of how the team should work will ultimately prove to be a major stumbling block. Despite the obvious differences that people have it is the job of the recruiter to ensure that the hires they make would fit the culture of the current team and organization. Cohesiveness in a team comes from common motives that will have people working together not against each other. Core attitudes and behaviors must broadly match that of the organization as a whole. If guaranteeing customer service failure is the aim, then a constantly bickering team works just fine!

– Not putting together and conveying a set of goals and aims to the team ensures that they work in different directions rather than working towards a definitive aim. Different perspectives, characteristics and skills work very well when the combined efforts are working towards one defined goal. Ensuring that customers receive top of the line service with each interaction would be the immediate goal. The fulfilment of this goal would lead to the larger goal of the company’s success and the success of every member in it.

– Not having a strong leader at the helm of operations. A strong team leader/ s will prove indispensable in making things happen. He or she must work as a facilitator, keep the team on track, motivate, coach and even take tough decisions when the team is unable to decide. A strong leader will first empower the team to make decisions that will be good for everyone. A proper timeline must be put in place within which the team must make those decisions and if not then it the leader would need to decide and enforce.

– A failure on the part of the team leader and or company leadership to lay down expectations clearly and without ambiguity. Lay down the standards expected especially with regard to customer service and what they can expect as rewards or recognition when those standards are consistently met and exceeded. These expectations must be made part of the appraisal process in the goal and key performance indicator setting. The expectations are in writing and each person will understand that failure to meet these expectations would lead to consequences. Standards for customer service – is one example of such expectations.

– The company and or teams failing to have open communication. If team members are apprehensive to approach a leader either because the team leader will not listen or there are negative consequences for voicing dissatisfaction, such teams will never succeed. There must be an open door policy in companies which allows each team member to communicate with each other and the leadership with ease and without fear of retribution. Failure to do this will lead to frustrated employees who in turn will prove insufficient in serving customers, thereby guaranteeing customer service failure.

Building and maintaining a cohesive team, that loves working with each other and serving the customers, is no easy task. However, to guarantee success in customer service and the success of the company, it is important that a company has strong teams that work together and understand the common purpose of their work place.
It is quite obvious that failure is not something that anyone wants in any sphere of life but it happens. Within the realm of customer service too, when some key aspects are ignored or flaws not attended to, it is a sure way of guaranteeing customer service failure. We will talk about those to you avoid those lapses:

– An unmanaged change in customer service leadership.
This is about someone in charge of a team without really assessing the skills, fit and capabilities of the person. For example, a consistently good performer in the ranks is elevated to the position of supervisor. This person may not have leadership skills and has been promoted only on the basis of performance. Without leadership and assertive skills this person is guaranteeing customer service failure as the team will not work well under such a person. This person will move from being a top performer to a weak performer by being ineffective in the current role. Proper training and coaching at the rank level would have helped this person take on higher responsibilities. The flip side of this is that as a consistent performer the person expects that he or she will be rewarded by a promotion and a hike in salary. If this does not happen, the disgruntled employee may leave the organization taking with him or her vast knowledge base and valuable skill set leaving a gaping hole in the customer service realm.

– A drab manager incapable of motivating and carrying the team forward is another way of guaranteeing customer service failure. If a team leader cannot rouse the team enough to give their best, what goes out to the customer would be shoddy and lack lustre customer service which customers will very soon be able to pick up. Dissatisfied customers will head to the door and lead to the company’s failure.

– Customer service team members and managers must blend together – present one unified face when dealing with customers. Managers that have a ‘holier than thou’ attitude will antagonize the team members and lose respect. A team that thinks this way can in no way be a cohesive team and will always be in a state of confusion. Such teams are guaranteeing customer service failure.

– What will customers receive from frustrated, disgruntled and angry employees? You guessed it – the same demeanor and same treatment. Customers see this behavior as the pulse and face of the organization as a whole and sooner than later will seek out the other myriad options available in the market. Creating such an environment and culture is the short route to guaranteeing customer service failure.

– As the culture of the company changes to reflect disregard and a complete lack of attentiveness to the needs of the customers, employees begin to feel disconnected from the company. Customers become more irate leading to an increase in angry calls and emotions, which becomes intolerable by the customer service staff. The whole process becomes a vicious cycle leading to the complete breakdown of customer service and resulting in the ‘death’ of the company.

– Do not learn from failures and pass the buck are significant contributors in guaranteeing customer service failure. It is understandable that since processes are run by human beings there are bound to be times when human error will affect performance and lead to lapses. However, learning from these failures and making amends would be required to ensure that service lapses are reduced to a minimum. Each team member must be expected to take the onus of faults and be ready to rectify them individually or as part of a team.

Nobody is perfect and everyone knows that – not as an excuse but as a fact for all human beings. However, it is this very fact that should be the guiding force when companies seek to handle customers and their needs. Customers judge companies based on their ability to deal with difficult situations and are more forgiving when companies go out of their way to make a serious service lapse in to the best ever customer service. Fixing problems has a huge impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty and the company’s long term growth and sustainability.

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” – Donald Porter

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