In keeping with this week’s theme of three essential elements of customer service I wanted to talk about the C-suite’s role.
In our top-down, hierarchical paradigm that has persisted over many decades, we tend to think of the C-suite as the top of the pyramid, the apex of the business. Over time this can cause a disconnect between the executive officers and the rest of the business. Decisions are made without really feeling the consequences because all the layers between executive and the rank and file dull any pain through spinning any bad news to sound not so bad.
The truth is, the C-suite is the foundation for the business. This is where company culture is set and where any change must start in order to successfully steer the business in a new direction. As the executives think, so goes the company.
In The First Element of Great Customer Service: Your People I wrote about the most essential part of great customer service. Like a three legged stool, customer service will fail if any one of the elements is missing, but I believe if the first element, people, are missing, it doesn’t just allow the stool to fall, the other two legs will cease to exist. People are necessary for the existence and success of quality and technology.
You, as the CXO, have the greatest impact on the people of your company. Your opinions, decisions, and actions inform the environment in which people work. You lay the foundation upon which the elements, especially the people, rest. I know it is easier to look at a spreadsheet and play with the numbers, but those numbers were affected by every person in your organization, and nobody has more impact than your customer facing employees.
It is incumbent upon you to make the right decisions and set the right tone for their success.Communicate, communicate, communicate.
- Make it known that you will be patient with the hiring process if quality employees are being found.
- Make management understand you consider money spent on training to be an investment, not an expense.
- Make sure the proper tools are available to make it as easy as possible to answer customer concerns and desires.
- Make your expectations crystal clear.
And if you must slash personnel do it as soon as possible with those who simply aren’t measuring up. Do yourself, your staff, and that employee the biggest favor you can by moving quickly before resentment, bad habits, and lost customers become a problem. Not everyone is cut out for customer service and the hiring process may not catch all of those who should be guided into other roles. It serves no one to let this slide because it is easier than facing someone to tell them they aren’t right for the job after all.
Your people are your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.
Your chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
These cliches exist because there is truth in them. Do your best to lay a solid foundation on which to rest this element and support it so the business can stand strong.
Cross posted to The Successful CXO: Committed to Customer Service