Culture’s not always a one-way street.

By Rob Wolff, Senior Consultant

In my role of helping CEOs to develop an intentional culture – a culture that’s designed to actually focus on specific success factors and what’s important  – one of the topics that I routinely discuss with employee groups relates to the delivery of what we like to call Legendary Customer Service.  As a consumer who too often receives “barely adequate” customer service, I think every employee of every company could get an easy leg up if this concept were to be embraced.

I like to lead these discussions by asking the audience to think about their own experiences as a customer. It’s generally pretty easy to get them to agree when I reference how non-legendary the customer service is in convenience stores.  I try to make it fun and discuss how eye contact alone from a cashier now qualifies as above-average customer service.

That lesson is important, and certainly has payback to the individual employee and to the business as a whole.  However, I think I need to find a new story to use in my lessons!  I was in a convenience store this week and offered the cashier a smile and some simple pleasantries when it was my turn at the register.   Wouldn’t you know that she was surprised, and thanked me for actually talking to her  – apparently customers don’t always fall into the categories of “happy” or “welcoming” either.

I’ve been guilty of being one-sided in my evaluations.  I failed to use one of our own business Fundamentals that we refer to as Assume Positive Intent.  I’ve assumed that the sub-par customer service that I receive is always the fault of a poorly trained or disengaged employee.  What I’ve sometimes failed to consider is that there are two parties to every interaction.  Have I been waiting to have a bright cheery smile and greeting presented to me before offering the same in return?   How many of those unsatisfying experiences would have been different if I started the positive interaction?   It’s time for me to consider my role and the fact that it’s ok to start the ball rolling rather than wait for it to be rolled to me first.  Clearly, this applies to the interactions we have with customers, employees and even vendors.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think that we’re in a “customer service crisis”.  The bar is set so low in terms of our expectations as consumers that a business need not jump very high to set itself apart from the apathetic rest.  We can help companies get there through a focus on building a culture intentionally at the organizational level. That’s how you infuse it in a company’s DNA.  That’s my passion and I welcome your thoughts and discussion.

If you’d like to learn more about how to get your workforce engaged in creating a high performing culture, just give us a call or shoot us an email.

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