Customer service refers to types of customers: external is your customers, of course, but internal, it’s your employees. Think of that as employee service because your employees are like your internal customers.
Now that we’ve got that straight, let’s look at the term “customer service” again.
Our definition: taking care of your people.
For example, we have some amazing customers who have purchased a product from us, a product we resell. It’s not our product per se, which means some other company is in charge of the fulfillment, technology, and platform. Some months ago, there were some issues with that technology platform during a migration from their 1.0 system to a 2.0 system. During that period, we tried to keep our customers apprised of the status. We even petitioned the CEO of this other company to give everyone a month free because they couldn’t access the system because it hadn’t been working. I asked the CEO, if not everybody in the organization, then at least just our customers. I was going to fight tooth and nail for our customers to get them a month free. What I said to our customers was, “You’re our people and we take care of our people.”
That’s really the simplest way to look at customer service.
Then I started to think about it on the other side, the internal side, your employees and your team members, and to look at it the same exact way. These are your people and you’re going to fight for them tooth and nail. Of course, this is all predicated on the fact that you’ve got the right people in the right seats. You don’t want to be fighting tooth and nail for someone who doesn’t share your organization’s values. It’s for those people who are a good fit, who are in alignment with your values and your Deeper Why, and who are committed to the organization, to the company, to you, and to the rest of your team. They’re great team members.
They are your people.
First, ask yourself these questions:
- How do you take care of your people?
- Do you even think about that?
If you’re a larger organization and you have employee benefits, you may think that that constitutes taking care of your people. You provide health insurance, disability insurance and these other employee benefits. Okay, that’s great. That’s helping them with that bottom rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where their basic needs are being met.
- What about moving higher up that pyramid?
- What about their need to feel important?
- What about feeling they’re making an impact?
- What about knowing they’re doing a good job?
- Do they feel like they matter?
That’s part of taking care of your people, so how do you make those things happen?
What does it mean to take care of your customers? Not always from the” customer is always right” place, but truly caring about your customers.
I recently read an article on Costco’s very generous return policy. The article reported a woman who returned an 8- year- old printer, and they actually honored that return. Now I think that might be a little above and beyond, but I know as Costco members ourselves, the very few times we’ve had a problem with an item, they’ve just said, “Nope, it shouldn’t be that way. Let’s take care of that. Here’s what we’re going to do for you.” We always get the feeling they really cared about us. That is probably part of the Costco’s value system – that is that the customers are really important.
Compare that with most companies’ standard script…”Thank you for being the most important part of, [fill in the blank] company.” It’s a great phrase, but if it becomes only a phrase and not a mantra, then your people just say it by rote and not really think about what it means.But a company like Costco… I really do feel like they have our best interest in mind and that it’s not just, “Oh this is our policy that we’ll take back any return because that’s what’s going to make our customers the happiest.” Rather, they’re really paying attention and looking at the situation on a case by case basis and, yes, usually in favor of the customer.
What I know is that the most successful companies and organizations are those that take care of their people internally and externally. Look at both sides of that coin.
- How do you take care of your internal people?
- How do you take care of your external people?
No matter how good any of us are at anything, there’s always that next level. What are the one to three things you’re going to do to boost serving your internal people and external people?