How Do Your Leadership Policies Define Customer Service?

How Do Your Leadership Policies Define Customer Service?

On two occassions leadership policy defined customer service for the business and caused me to become dissatisfied.

First, the United Airlines customer service rep encouraged me to use the kiosk to obtain my boarding pass for my flight home. When I asked to wait and talk to a person he reiterated United Airlines policy encourages you to use the kiosk. I tried to explain my situation and was interrupted. At this point, I blurted out…so customers are highly encouraged to use the kiosk! He said, “Yes.” So, I went to the kiosk and guess who meets me there? That’s right, the customer service rep. He started telling me how to use the kiosk. I took a deep breath, looked him in the eye and said, “I understand how to obtain a boarding pass using the kiosk.” “I just wanted to know if an upgrade to first class was possible?”  The customer service rep stopped and said, “Oh.” For the first time during this interaction he was listening to me vs. being just tasked focused and aiming himself at me. His focus on company policy turned me into a thing and determined my level of satisfaction.

Second, I was sitting at the counter eating breakfast at Waffle House. I went to hand my ticket and money to the waitress and she said, “You will need to go to the register to pay.” Her statement struck me funny so I said, “Amazing how today’s businesses define customer service?” Of course she started explaining why I had to pay at the register. Each time she provided an answer as to why, I said, “The business defines customer service.” Finally, she looked at me and said, “You look like I can trust you.” She then took my money for the food. Again, is company policy defining customer service?

WOW!!!, while writing this post I received a phone call from the Buca di Beppo restaurant in Franklin TN. They wanted to make sure we enjoyed our visit yesterday. In fact, the food was great, our server Noel was exceptional and she even put our extra food in containers for us to take home.

Customer service may be defined by business leaders but the customer always determines satisfaction!

How are leadership policies preventing your employees from providing exceptional customer service…the kind of service that creates referrals and customer loyalty?

Remember, what you sell can be duplicated but a strong customer service culture can’t be copied.

3 Leadership Don’ts

3 Leadership Don’ts

Not so long ago, leaders were once thought to be like ogres. The employees tiptoed around the workplace like busy ants, doing their very best not to get reprimanded or be sent to the “principal’s” office.  They did their jobs but couldn’t wait to leave and go home. There was gossip, a lack of communication and no trust. Furthermore, a sense of hostility coupled with miscommunication can lead to disaster, especially when the stakes are high and accuracy is a must. Although the leader may have been respected, it was respect out of fear, rather than respect of admiration.

Wouldn’t you rather be admired and liked by the employees?  More and more leaders of today are learning to push the “ogre mentality” aside and embrace the opportunity to get to know the people they serve. They are finding that trusting them, caring about the wellbeing of their employees and families, teaching them and communicating with them goes a lot further to create a healthy workplace.

If your goal is to promote low staff turnover, improved customer loyalty and better quality produicts, here are Three Leadership Don’ts to stop immediately:

1. Don’t be the Alone Ranger! Your job is to get results through others, not to do everything yourself. The key to achieving greater results is through delegation. Trying to take on every task yourself will lead to burnout and destroy trust among subordinates.

2. Don’t Jump to Solutions! When faced with a problem, stop and think. It is a common human trait to point fingers, act upon instincts or even to fly off the handle when problems occur unexpectedly. Before jumping to solutions involve others. Together, define the problem, and then gather data to determine possible causes. Next, identify the root cause. Instead of trying to solve the problems on your own, propose solutions as a whole team. Other people may have ideas how the problems could be solved, some of which you may have never thought of before. Brainstorming can lead to everyone coming up with a great solution together.  When you jump to solutions and react on impulse, you waste time and frustrate others, especially when the solution is wrong.

3. Don’t Suffer in Silence! When things go wrong (and it will happen!), don’t become withdrawn and quiet. Even if it is your nature to try to deal with problems on your own, the silent route will only eat you alive. Problems kept internally can cause you to lose sleep, or they can even mess up relationships with your employees, friends and family. This is the time to rally up the troops and share in the reality of the situation, rather than trying to deal with all of these issues on your own. Whether it is a personal issue or work-related problem, other people are willing and love to help, if only they know what you are going through. Talking out loud gives them the opportunity to make a difference.

The leadership don’ts can be very easy to fall into, especially when you fail to realize it is happening to you. Hence, perhaps the biggest realization in all of this is the aspect of accountability to oneself. Unfortunately, people rarely like to admit their own faults; it is a natural inherent desire to be founded and grounded to our belief system. But those leaders who are the most successful are those who are able to grab hold of the concept, admit their mistakes and embrace the need for change.

Take the time now to reflect upon and truthfully answer these questions:

  • Do your employees trust you?
  • Do you feel like a prisoner of your own thoughts?
  • Do you analyze a situation before jumping to conclusions?
  • Do you sometimes feel helpless or like things are out of control?
  • Do people open up to you with their concerns, issues or problems?
  • Do you feel frustrated by the workplace atmosphere at the moment?
  • Do you fly off the handle or immediately react when a problem arises?
  • Do you keep your problems to yourself and rarely share them with anyone?
  • Do you wish you had more help but don’t trust others to do the tasks you need done as well as you could do them yourself?

If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, fear not. You are not a bad leader or a poor manager. And you probably don’t have bad employees, either. There can be a lot of relationship or communication issues in the workplace gone awry, but it can be improved slowly and trust can be repaired. Start by ditching the three leadership don’ts and accept that you DO need others. Also, remember employees WANT to be needed. They are not at work just to receive a steady paycheck. Instead, they want to work in an environment in which they can contribute their full creative powers to make a difference in the lives of others.