Who owns the customer experience? You, me. Everybody.
One of my favorite work/business quotes is "To the customer, you ARE the company." I recently started following Don Peppers on LinkedIn and he wrote a nice post on customer service underscoring that knowing what your organization does is crucial to great service:
A colleague of mine used to do consulting work for restaurant chains. He said in evaluating any sit-down restaurant he visited, there were two things he absolutely insisted that every single employee should know, from maitre d’ to the kitchen clean-up crew:
- What was on the menu, and
- How to seat a guest.
This is a great analogy for the way most businesses should train their people. Everyone, no matter what their function – HR, accounting, sales, service, engineering – everyone should know what the business offers customers, and how to serve these customers, as well.
This is great advice for training. But I was pleased to see Peppers take it to the next step, which is why I bookmarked the article. Emphasis mine in the quote below:
A significant side benefit of this whole idea is that when everyone at a company knows not just what’s on offer but also the right way to treat customers, the culture at the firm will cohere around building the business. Workers who are united by a common vision of what the company’s mission is are more likely to make the right decision in difficult or problematic circumstances.
My only criticism is that this needs to be more than a "side benefit." I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that staff who understand what the organization does and how to serve the customer automatically "get" the company's mission, or buy-in to your leadership vision. Does your staff know why what you do is important to the customer? Do they know whether how your organization does it is unique or deeply personal to customers? I think when leadership "starts with why" you'll get both buy-in and understanding first, and the "what" (including great customer service) becomes easier to achieve.