Writing a “knock your socks off” service culture plan

One of the major weaknesses of most organizations is management’s lack of a service strategy. They fail to realize the strategic opportunity of using superior customer service as a vehicle to build market share and market dominance.

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, one of the most powerful retailers in the world, built Walmart on customer service. Today, however, the company is now known mainly for their low prices. The value of their company as a service leader has dropped dramatically. They have lost their focus on customer service. I always had trouble understanding why the new management of Walmart seemingly eliminated the customer experience to focus on price alone.

When organizations know what is important to their customers and realize the shortcomings of their current service, they are then ready to write a service plan.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, is officially the world’s richest person, as of November 2017. He built his company to become far and away one of the most trusted and well-liked brands, more so than its current smart home technology rivals Apple and Google.

Consumers trust Amazon and freely give them personal details about what they purchase and their interests. The one thing most customers claim is that Amazon has the best customer service of any company they have ever dealt with. Customers have said that they only had to explain half the problem for Amazon to solve 200 percent of it.

Bezos has been responsible for creating more than 100,000 new full-time jobs over the past year for the U.S. economy, and is on schedule to create more with the new ventures he is working on. Jeff Bezos definitely has a working service plan.

Use these guidelines to make decisions about the features of your service plan.

1. Under-promise and over-deliver. Set customer expectations at the right level. Under promise and over deliver” is a service strategy in which service providers strive for excellent customer service and satisfaction by doing more than they say they will for the customer or exceeding customer expectations. Deliver on your promises. Don’t make a promise you can’t keep and keep the ones you make.

 2. Fulfill your customers’ wants and needs.

  • Make it easy to do business with your company.
  • Customers want fast service.
  • Customers want to talk to a real, live person.
  • Return phone calls immediately.
  • Always deliver on your promises.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Not all customers who buy the same service or product have the same service needs. Be like Amazon and have a “relentless” focus on customer service through regular communication, and make sure you can deliver solutions for their individual needs.

4. Continue to drive the plan strategically. According to Jeff Bezos, “Focus on the things that don’t change.” Bezos built Amazon around things he knew would be stable over time, investing heavily in ensuring that Amazon would provide those things—and improve its delivery of those things.

Management must drive a customer service program with continuous training for all employees and reinforcement by means of rewards for high-performing service employees, and with management standards that are regularly reinforced.

When management is committed to customer service by daily word and deed, the result is a well-established infrastructure that facilitates free communication interchange internally and yields a healthy organizational culture.

Develop a long-term strategy and then implement it using hardheaded analysis, talented management of people, intense concentration and commitment—and serious spending.

While strategy, objectives and support systems are the essential building blocks of a service plan, the entire program probably would wilt like an unwatered lily without a corporate culture to sustain it and a chief executive who is just as committed to customer satisfaction as he or she is to stockholder satisfaction.

Written by John Tschohl for CW Magazine.