Doing Something About It

7 January 2004

All of us have an abundance of poor customer services experiences. I recently managed to burn through five dollars on four copies at a Kinko’s. I was then ridiculed by an employee of Kinko’s for not carefully monitoring the meter on the copier. I witnessed a fast-food worker who literally dropped a bag of food between the drive-thru window and an automobile without ever looking out the window. Eye contact with a customer was the last thing that employee had on her mind.

Phone assistance with most businesses is dreadful. Unfortunately, so much of the problem is a reflection of thinking at the top coupled with poor training.

In the coming weeks you’ll be hearing more about the new role of customer service, quality and business transformation for the year 2004 and beyond. Much of the old wisdom remains spot on. There are new communication techniques and new methods for instilling the right attitudes in today’s front-line employees. There are ways to prevent horror stories that damage image, reputation and performance.

Rather than remain offended by the declining state of customer service, I’ve resolved to start doing something about it in 2004. Stay tuned. We’ve got ideas, plans and a target audience!

I’ve got to put some additional work into a major project for a manufacturing client. There’s Baldrige work that will occupy a couple of more days between now and the end of February. There’s a call to jury duty that should be a single day of pain. Otherwise, we’re going to look seriously at the way to bring business transformation and improvement back to American business. Do you care? Does a business owner care? Does a customer service associate care? I think they do.

When I read essays such as this one, I realize that there is a key factor working in our favor as Americans. When it comes to our own livelihoods, we’ll do what it takes to keep the business here. It may take some sacrifices, but we have the same old pioneering, persevering spirit that we’ve always had as a nation. That’s something you just can’t get when your customer service inquiry is answered in India.

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