Why are companies grappling with basic customer service?

employee fear of change

Adam Bender from Computerworld Australia recently reported on an event hosted by IPscape exploring the challenges companies continue to have delivering customer service that meets expectations.

With exploding connectivity and consumer expectations for instant service one would think businesses would be forced to respond.  However fear and other factors have made progress slow.

“the vast majority of organizations are still grappling with the absolute basics” of customer service, including how to minimize how much time customers spend on hold or being routed through automated telephone systems.

IPscape CEO Simon Burke

“Fear of change” has held back many companies from enhancing customer service, Burke said. Even if a call center agent recognizes improvements, the agent may not tell upper management because of a perceived unwillingness to change, he said.

Telstra, the large Australian telco sees “a distinct shift away from thinking about technology as a way to cheapen the customer contact,” but rather as a way “to deepen the customer contact,” said Telstra group general manager of industry development, Rocky Scopelliti. He said there’s a diminishing distinction among the many channels customers use to contact businesses. “Organisations have arranged their channels as though there are different customers who are using different channels,” he said. “But it’s one customer [who is] engaging in different ways.” Customers expect companies to know the “context” of their engagement so they don’t have to “explain themselves at every step of the process,” he said.

What’s the real problem here? It’s cultural! First, there seems to be fear at lower levels of large organizations that upper management does not want to change its customer service practices. Why? Because, it is believed that the whole focus is on reducing the costs of customer service. Second, there does not appear to be a deep understanding of customer buying behavior and preferences.

This will continue until upper management address the need for a strong customer culture – a belief at all levels (led and demonstrated by senior executives) that what’s best for the customer is best for the business. This belief must then be translated into customer focused practices at all levels that create a deep understanding of customer perceived value and delivery of relevant service for customers.

When will this occur? When executives measure their organization’s level of customer-centricity and discover the direct links of a much stronger customer culture with outstanding business performance.

Do you measure your business’s level of customer-centricity? If you don’t, how can you expect to manage it for superior business results?

3 responses to “Why are companies grappling with basic customer service?

  1. Pingback: Why are companies grappling with basic customer service? « How to do Business

  2. Nice post, Chris. This brings to mind the remark attributed to Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I couldn’t agree with you more that the right culture is essential for any organization that is serious about becoming truly customer-centric. It all starts with the right attitudes and behaviors of senior leadership and a customer-focused mindset that permeates the organization. It’s about more than just putting the customer first, but creating and developing an environment top to bottom that fosters an unrelenting focus on building customer engagement and brand loyalty. Exceptional organizations constantly examine they ways they do business with their customers to ensure the outcomes of elite service and a low-effort customer experience. They engage and involve all levels of the organization in that effort.

  3. Hey Scott thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I am a big fan of Drucker and that quote really resonates with me thanks for reminding me. It is a large undertaking to shift a culture but with a massive pay-off! I think the key point you make is spot on that everyone needs to buy in as everyone has an impact on customers