Bad Customer Service Isn’t the Problem. A Bad Culture Is the Problem
More and more people are complaining about bad customer service. The demand for better service continues to grow, as evidenced in our customer experience research (2022 Achieving Customer Amazement study sponsored by Amazon Web Services). However, customer service trends seem to be heading in the wrong direction. Even several years before the pandemic began, The American Customer Satisfaction Index found the overall ratings slipping, even with brands most recognized for high levels of customer service.
It’s not like companies purposely provide poor customer service. But even though they want to, they can’t seem to execute at a level that makes customers happy. So, let’s consider what could be behind this.
- The company has chosen to purposely deliver lousy customer service. Believe it or not, some companies choose to ignore creating a good experience. Despite customers complaining and leaving, they elect not to invest in the people and tools it takes to meet the needs and expectations of their customers.
- The company wants to deliver a better service experience but can’t seem to make it happen. This is a big problem, and there are many reasons this could occur. Perhaps the company doesn’t have the funds to invest in a better experience. And even if they do have the funds, they may not know where to begin. Maybe they haven’t hired the right people — or enough people. Even with the right people, they haven’t properly trained them. They simply don’t know what to do.
- The company can’t keep up. Today’s customers are more demanding and have higher expectations of everyone they do business with. They have become educated about what good customer service looks like. They have learned from the best brands in the business, such as Amazon, Lexus, Nordstrom and other brands that raise the bar. The customer now compares you to these rockstar brands, not to your competition. Not realizing this puts any organization at a disadvantage.
- A bad culture is the problem. The culture of any organization is defined by leadership. It sets the tone and direction for others to follow. Success doesn’t happen by accident. Leaders must work on the culture they want employees and customers to experience. Their vision and plan must provide clarity, keep employees focused and defend the culture if anyone or any group of people go out of alignment with the vision. Unfortunately, some leaders don’t realize this and can’t connect the dots.
The first three reasons could all go under number four. It all comes down to the person at the top of the organization deciding to create a culture that drives a positive service experience. On the surface, it may look like a bad service experience comes from bad processes, lack of training and more. Still, it’s typically the decision of leadership to invest the time, energy and dollars into the culture that creates the experience that makes customers say, “I’ll be back.” In short, the customer experience starts and ends with the organization’s culture.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times, bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken