Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Collaboration Is Critical To Customer Service

Last week, on our radio show, “The Leader’s Edge”, we talked about customer service and how it can make or break your company. Richard Batenburg, CEO of Batmann Analytics, shared his vision and key tips for empowering your employees so they can, and will, provide positive experiences for your customers. You can listen to the archive of this discussion on The Leader's Edge page at

While empowering your employees is critical to good customer service, there is another key that often gets overlooked. As the following excerpt from “The Engaged Manager” (by best-selling author David R. Meyer) describes, it is also critical to step back and ensure that your vision, and the objectives that you set to fulfill that vision, actually meet your customers’ needs:

Good objectives start with collaboration. You will want to ensure that your customers understand and agree with any objectives you define. Thus, before you start setting the objectives, you need to spend some time understanding the needs and wants of your customers and identifying how you can best satisfy their expectations. Most of the time, this is fairly simple. Work with your customers, to find out what they need from you and when they need it. That’s the basis for setting the objectives. Certainly there will be times when their needs and the capabilities of your department to deliver may be far apart, but by collaborating with them, you can identify and reconcile those discrepancies.

Setting objectives without consulting your customers can lead to internal conflict and poor customer service. Likewise, setting objectives without the input of your team will leave them feeling isolated, unheard, and unappreciated. If your team does not understand and buy in to the objectives you’ve set for them, they will not be completely engaged and may not bring their full potential to the project. In the worst case scenario, the lack of upfront discussions could put your team in a position of failing to meet the objectives.

A few years back, I received my Performance Objectives from my Vice President. They were clear, well written, and certainly measurable. The primary objective called for the reduction of the installation interval for customer orders from 55 days from customer signature date to 30 days. The objective was challenging, but I was convinced that we could make the reduction if we focused our efforts. We needed new tools to help us with this process, so I added these tools to the objectives of my subordinates. All worked as planned, and within 60 days we had the interval to about 31 days. I was happy with our progress and knew that we would quickly achieve the new goal.

There was only one problem.

Our customers were not happy at all.

Was it an issue of quality?


Were we missing orders?


The problem was that my staff was pushing hard to achieve the 30-day interval and was not providing the personal attention to our customers that our sales department was promising. Unfortunately, the 30-day goal was our goal, but not the goal of the sales team.

In fact, their goals were in contradiction to our goals and the more we put pressure on them to reduce the intervals, the less they were able to achieve their goals.

Who was right?

It really doesn’t matter. Two departments with conflicting goals ended up hurting our customers.

Can you relate to Dave’s personal story? Do you include your customers in the goal-setting process for your organization? If not, are you missing a key opportunity to provide a unique customer service experience? What can you do in the future to ensure that your vision and your objectives are meeting, or better yet exceeding, your customers needs and expectations?

We hope that you enjoyed this week’s blog. At ECI Learning Systems LLC we are dedicated to improving productivity and profitability by creating engaged organizations. Our unique combination of training and personalized coaching, combined with our expertise in assessments allow us to create a development plan tailored for your success.

Until next time….

Laurie Valaer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again Dave,

    The point that people want to take away from this is that while departments have goals and measurements if they are not tied into the overall organizations goals and centered on the customer, the organization will lose.

    The Dept may win but when customers are not treated right they will leave.