Friday 27 February 2015


culled from:
When the customer service at your business goes bad, it’s because one or more of your customer service systems are broken.

Let’s say you own a body shop.  Some of your customers start reporting (in person if you’re lucky; on Yelp if you’re not) an unsatisfactory customer interaction with one of your cashiers.  Your first impulse is to bite the young lady’s head off, but I hope you’ll hold that impulse in check and look at the situation dispassionately.  You may see something like the following:  your cashier’s disorganized, doesn’t have proper change, doesn’t have her computer turned on at the beginning of her shift–in time to serve the you, the first customer who walks up to her–can’t find a pen for you to sign the credit card slip.
What you’ll discover, in other words, is a failure of systems, including some or all of the following:
• Onboarding: why wasn’t she prepped on what the necessary supplies are for starting a shift?
• Training: has she been instructed in one of the workplace organization systems, perhaps 5S, which is a component of Lean Manufacturing methodology?
• Scheduling:  Was she told to show up at the minute the body shop opens rather than a more realistic 30 minutes earlier so she could both mentally and physically prepare, get her terminal switched on, get her bank ready to make change, and so forth?
• Hiring. Saying that there was a failure in hiring is sort of like saying it’s the employee’s (cashier’s) fault, but not really.  If she is wrong for this position–too shy, not detail-oriented enough, etc.–it’s not her fault, it’s the fault of the system (or hunch, in far too many companies) that is responsible for selecting her, in error, for this position. [Hiring systems are the most important systems, bar none, at most businesses.  Here's what's required to create a great one.]
Service Disconnect © Micah Solomon
Service Disconnect © Micah Solomon
When something goes wrong, fix the system  
As the founder of the Ritz-Carlton has often said, if something goes wrong once, it might be the fault of the employee.  If it happens twice, it’s definitely the system.
And that’s what’s most important about an understanding of customer service systems – gaps in the organization are almost always the result of a breakdown or lack of an appropriate Service System.
In my cashier example, it’s clear that a system needs to be developed to ensure that all supplies are stocked before each shift. This could be in the form of a small checklist or a job description that clearly defines the role of each employee. However the organization chooses to deal with the situation is fine – as long as it solves the problem for good. The absolute wrong thing to do is to yell at the cashier for not stocking the items. Not only is this demoralizing for a good employee who is trying her best, but it also doesn’t solve the problem systematically–in other words, in a sustainable manner.
Systematic improvement requires a blame-free culture
So, how do you discover the systems that are missing or mis-designed? There are systems for that (see my article here on the  Mr. BIV method), but it is first and foremost dependent on building a culture where mistakes are embraced as learning opportunities, and guest complaints as opportunities for improvement. Turning every issue that comes up into a witch hunt will make your service team timid to the extent that they’re more focused on covering their, uh, assets than on providing service. You need your employees to tell you when they’ve made a mistake – so that it can be fixed in the future–systematically. (One of my favorite comments along these lines comes from the Mayo Clinic, via author Leonard L Berry: The Mayo Clinic, one of our greatest medical institutions, wants incoming physicians to realize they will never be blamed for admitting mistakes or for asking for help.  However, taking a lone wolf approach– not asking for help or admitting a problem that affects a patient–is “potentially career-ending.”
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, customer experience speaker and bestselling business author, most recently of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service


  1. Bello Ayodele David
    Customers treatment is an antidote for good sales. As a boss you need to train your workers on how to relate with customers. Thanks

  2. Its indeed good to have a good customer service as its one of the gratest determinant of a business success.


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  5. its good because you must treat your customers as a king

    As a business man or woman, having a good customer relations goes a long way in building standard customer service and in return boost patronage of your business.

  7. Udoh rebecca paul
    before an organisation can achieve its objective, it must ensure all employees are trained according to the system. the management has to work hand in hand with them so as to perform customers want. once the customer need cannot be satisfied, it means the system is bad

  8. bolaji femi stephen
    The essence of setting up a business is to satisfy customers as well as retaining their goodwill. fixing up all problems within the system without abuse of personality irrespective of individual position within the organisation is the only way this can be achieved

    you set up a business because of your customers or consumers so you must be able to have the ability to satify them so as to sustain them their problem is your problem you work for them and vice versa