The value an organization puts on customer service says a lot about that company. From the perspective of customers, how they're treated reveals the true focus of an organization. How does your company prioritize customers and their needs? Do you try to get them off the phone quickly so you can go on to other calls? Or do you take the time to follow a problem through to its resolution, while taking ownership for it? Do customers have to repeat their information multiple times as they interact with you? Or do you use the information you have already gathered, recorded, and maintained about them to make your time together more effective (a benefit for both parties)?

From the employee perspective, how customers are served demonstrates whether or not the organization treats all people with respect. This is especially important for contact center and customer service employees, who are sometimes treated as just another “warm body in a seat.” Are they instructed to reply from a set of scripted responses, or are staff members free to answer the customer's question in their own words? Are they required to follow company policy—even if it's not what's right for the customer or situation, or are they empowered to resolve the customer's problem?

Set the Stage

An organization's culture sets its tone and reinforces its values. At the most admired customer-focused organizations, the leadership recognizes that customer service isn't a department; it's a companywide focus. It's ...

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