Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rethinking Customer Service

I've read several  posts about customer service lately that were very good, and addressed the issue of customer handling in a tasteful way. But I still had an itch that wasn't scratched, and I finally figured out why! They all focus on how an employee treats the customer and that is only the tip of the iceberg.

The business owners' first customer is the very first employee that is hired. Everything trickles down from there. Just as you cannot build a home with contented children without contented parents, you can't give great customer service without treating your employees as if you value them first!

No matter how hard you try to beat into your workers that the customer is right and should be treated with the utmost respect and deference, if you aren't finding and meeting the needs of your most valued asset, the employee, it will never really trickle down.

Think of a fountain. If there is no water coming from the top, none of it will fall on the bottom layers.

My mother, who teaches the best customer service class in town!
Of course, you can beat and cajole and trick your workers into doing their best at satisfying the customer, but over time the morale will erode, and sooner or later it will come back to bite you. I've seen this happen in the best of companies. During the current economic challenges, the time is ripe for all business owners to do what it takes to care for and feed their employees. This will pay off, and will not be wasted energy. Sometimes people are treated like machines, albeit valuable machines. Machines need oil and maintenance every once in a while, but they can be replaced when they wear down.  Perhaps because we are so far from the agrarian society of yesteryear we have forgotten that if you don't feed and water your crop, you will not have a good, healthy one.

The human factor is the make or break issue in any business. The greatest companies take care of their assets, and not only  because they want to make more money, but because they value people. Take away the human element and what have you got? A lot of green stuff changing hands. But not much else.

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