Customer Service

Organizations exist to serve customers. That’s obvious. What may not be as obvious is that organizations in turmoil often forget this fact.

When an organization’s focus shifts from serving their customers to serving their own needs instead, problems arise. For instance, if your staff is exerting great effort to try and get customers to follow the organization’s internal processes, this is a problem. Typically starting in one area of the organization, this problem can permeate like a mushroom cloud throughout the organization. The results can be disastrous.

Let’s face it. Customers don’t care about your organization’s internal processes. In fact, they don’t care about your processes at all. Customers want only the end product or the end service that they believe you can provide. How you deliver that to your customer is outside of the customer’s concerns.

But your customers do care if they get the run around from you. Sometimes they care enough to leave your organization altogether. This includes both internal (e.g., staff) and external (e.g., public) customers.

Here are some telltale signs that your organization is losing touch with its customers:

  • Customer queries are met with reasons or excuses about why something has or has not occurred.
  • Your staff points to the customer as the problem when the organization’s rules are circumvented.
  • There is a high staff turnover in your organization.
  • Staff on extended sick leave is a regular occurrence.
  • Work overwhelm is the norm.
  • Customer complaints are increasing.
  • You are losing customers.

Whether it’s from internal or external customers, treat customer complaints as an opportunity—an opportunity to improve both services/products and your relationship with your customer. Here are things to consider:

  1. Above all, acknowledge the customer’s complaint with an apology. Don’t give reasons (or excuses) for why things may have turned out the way they did.
  2. Provide options for rectifying the situation. Ask the customer if any of the options are satisfactory. If not, ask the customer to provide options.
  3. Immediately follow through on delivering the agreed-upon option.
  4. Check with the customer to ensure that the final delivery is satisfactory.
  5. Ask for customer feedback.
  6. Take customer feedback seriously. Implement changes in your organization to ensure that your focus is on the customer.

To this last point, if your internal processes are a regular hindrance to both you and your customer, it may be time for an overhaul. Instead of experiencing up to 98% waste in your practices, why not turn that wasted time, effort, and resources into superb customer service?

Be the customer! Look at your internal processes and ask yourself how you would change the process if you were the customer. You may be surprised at how much waste you might uncover in your processes in just a few short minutes or hours. It won’t take a lot of money (if any) to make small process changes for big customer satisfaction gains.

The Key to Productivity

Do you remember the last time you were faced with a task that you didn’t particularly enjoy? Do you remember what you did? If you completed the task, it’s because you started working on it and didn’t stop until the job was done.

“Starting” is the key to productivity.

When you have difficulty starting, the task waits. If the wait is excessive, you may end up working under pressure to finish the job. This is not a good way to work, since working under pressure creates more stress for you and for those around you.

It also increases chances for mistakes, since the tight timeline leaves little room to correct things that may go wrong. In fact, when you work under pressure like this, you almost always produce an inferior product.

There are many reasons why people have difficulty getting started with tasks, but here are some considerations to help you push yourself to start.

  • If you are resisting starting on that project because you feel your outcome may not be what you expect, remember that risk is inherent in everything we do. And even if you do fail in achieving your outcome, you will have come away with a valuable learning experience.
  • Is overwhelm your enemy? Break up the overwhelming task into small manageable tasks. Then start working on the small pieces, one at a time, until completion. By breaking the task into small parts, it helps alleviate overwhelm.
  • “Paralysis by analysis” applies to those who need to have everything be perfect all the time and because of that, may never get started. To help you overcome this perfectionist approach, just start! Just starting will create the momentum needed to follow-through on the task.
  • When boredom creeps into your work, you will avoid doing it. This only creates more work because we tend to work on our “waiting” pile when our energy is lowest. To overcome boredom, just start on the task. The sooner you finish, the sooner you can return to more interesting work.
  • Do you enjoy working under pressure? If so, you probably put things off until the last minute. This creates more stress not only for you, but for others, as well. And this also increases the chances for mistakes, leaving no time for their correction. In fact, working under pressure almost always results in an inferior product. Give yourself lots of time for the task and start working on it on time, not at the last minute.

Use good time management techniques such as the above to push yourself to be more productive. And when you do, you will notice a considerable gain in free time in your days. That’s definitely something worth starting, isn’t it?