Home > Exclusive Articles, Leadership > Customer Service: Your Lifeline in the Crisis

Customer Service: Your Lifeline in the Crisis


lifepreserver

by Nicolette Wuring
Founder
Customer Management Services

See article & bio on the HR Performance Sites website

Also featured on The Reputation Garage blog

As your management team works its plans to manage the current downturn, it’s worth remembering that we are all at once suffering a financial market crisis, a world economic crisis, a management crisis, an ethics/values crisis, and a crisis of changing consumer purchase and lifestyle priorities.

First and foremost this crisis is about trust, and trust is earned and lost by people. Over many years businesses became so short-term profit-focused that the managers, employees and even customers became just variables in the profit equation, traded off as assets or liabilities, not as the human beings they are. “Customer right sizing” is but one of hundreds of examples of this. In too many cases the “right” was for profits, not the customer. And the customer knew this and promptly withdrew credits on deposit from the company’s earned trust bank.

Or consider the CSR paradigm “People – Planet – Profit” that is widely promulgated here in Europe. Most corporations have not only been short performance on the planet-side, but also on the people-side. This has accelerated the profit collapse.

The BIG question for industries and companies is how to become profitable again? The answer for 2009 is that you must get much better at finding ways to keep your customers by earning their trust. Relationships develop between people, not between “corporations” and “customers.” That’s where the customer facing people in organizations enter into the equation.

A good starting point is to answer the following questions:

1) Do we have a strong level of “earned” trust among our customers?

2) Can we quantify it?

3) Do we have strong managerial and operational competency to build trust through our customer-facing operations?

4) Have we set the right goals to drive trust, and are the right metrics in place to track progress?

Customer Service, Customer Care, Customer Operations, you know, all those people who manage the trust you build in your business cannot be treated as dehumanized robots, as ‘human doings’, managed at a task level for their quantitative results. One of management’s top priorites right now is to boost their role as the window to ‘the corporation’, representing the organization. The bottom line? You must find ways to help your organization to better interact with customers as human beings. That is how you will earn trust and improve your relationships.

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  1. Cynthia
    April 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I think you make some great points about the importance of customer service. I think it is important for a corporation or manager to realize just how valuable each customer is. There is a calculator on Wired2lead.com that shows just how valuable a customer is. The great part of this calculator is that is shows the actual money value of that customer (based on the numbers you plug in). I think this information is valuable to those going through company changes (and possibly loosing customers) or for those who have employees (or perhaps themselves) made even one customer upset.

    Check it out if you get a chance.

    Again the website is http://www.wired2lead.com

    Thanks

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