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Friday, April 9, 2010

For service, dial the wrong number.

Ever dial the wrong number into a company looking for service only to get passed around from department to department as people who “aren’t responsible” for serving you struggle to find the individual that is?

Worse, have you ever dialed that wrong number, only to be asked to call back in, been routed back to a main service line or “accidentally” cut off?

This happened to me this week, as I called a company I do business with and ended up being transferred into the voice response dead letter office.

In most cases, it’s a telling sign of the level of service you can expect to receive from front line providers in that company.

As mentioned in this space yesterday, a front line service team will only be as good at keeping promises as the central support structure is at making the right promises and in enabling them to be kept. The mark of an organization that realizes this and fully supports their front line providers is where employees not in direct service roles know several correct paths to a service provider, or even better, are capable of owning a customer problem through resolution.

The Army makes a point in training that every soldier is an infantryman first. In your organization, is every employee a service provider first, or would most staffers look upon a customer call with confusion and embarrassment at not being able to serve them? If they don’t have direct service skills, are they oriented enough around internal service that they are capable of getting a customer problem to someone that can help in a single step?

Consumers don’t distinguish between parts of the organization that serve customers directly and parts that don’t. The company is the company is the company, and anyone should be able to address my need, answer my concern, and in return, take my money.

That is the standard that your company is being held to, whether you realize it or not. With fewer barriers than ever to “protect” internal employees from the need to interface with customers directly, companies that can’t provide service from inside will be penalized in the market for their lack of all-organization service orientation.

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