Customer Service is a Culture not a Department

We write a lot about customer service because as Chief Operational Officers we train on, and document customer service policies, for our clients. When we work with our clients on servicing their customer base we always make sure that the service that the customers receive is consistent no matter the size or type of client.  

As with many of our blogs, there is a real-world scenario behind this post. Recently, I ordered some printed materials from a local Phoenix area print shop. We ordered a wall decal for our office, coasters that we hand out and a few other promotional items for our business. Everything started off great. The sales person came to our office to meet with me and Loree. We discussed what we were looking to accomplish and felt we understood one another so, we got a quote and placed the order. Great sales experience.  

Here is where it all fell apart. A few weeks went by and I called the print shop several times and I  emailed them to find out the status of the orders. I was told by the sales person it would be a couple more weeks. Approximately 4 weeks went by and I finally called the print shop again.  This time they told me that all of the orders were ready for pick up. I asked them to email me invoices so that I could pay for the items when I came to pick them up. That took another 3 – 4 days to get the invoices. Once I received the invoices I noticed the fulfillment date was a full week earlier. When I went to pick up the items, I asked about this and I was told the items had indeed been sitting there, ready for pick up, for a week. Now, if you know my personality at all, you probably know what I said. But, I am not going to go there in this post. I just told myself that I would never purchase from this printer again. 

Now, it gets better. When I got the printed materials back to my office, Loree and I started to prep the wall decal, But, when we read the instructions (we are operations people, we always read the instructions first) it specifically said no textured walls. We have textured walls in our office, the sales person saw and touched the walls and we talked about getting the right decal for textured walls. I called the manufacturer to verify this and they also said it wouldn’t cling to textured walls. I then called the sales person and they tried to make good by sending me a sheet of plastic to adhere the decal to but that just ruined the product. We ended up ordering another one designed for textured walls directly from the manufacturer and it went on beautifully and looks great. 

Fast forward a few weeks. We were working at our client’s office when a representative from this same print shop showed up with samples of letterhead for our client, based upon the client’s request for new letterhead. The printer wanted the client to be able to see and touch the type of paper they would be using.  The printer also knew the client will be moving at the end of this year and they didn’t want to waste money by printing more letterhead than they can use up before the change of address. I was blown away at the level of service. I thought, “now that is great customer service, but we didn’t get that”.  

After this experience, I called the owner of the print shop and explained the huge difference in the experiences. I asked if this is the service standard norm for smaller clients’ vs bigger clients. I was told that our mutual client is a good client for them and has been with them a long time.  Of course, that didn’t answer my question. I did get an email from the owner a couple days later telling me that her company had a meeting about this and will work on making the client experience more consistent. I was happy that they took action to work on the culture of their customer service. 

If you are thinking your company treats all your clients the same, I am going to have to disagree and say you probably don’t. If you think about how you treat the clients that are your “big paychecks” vs the smaller ones, you will realize there is a difference. Also, how do you treat a new client vs one that has been with you for years? The new client usually gets a little more “love” in the beginning. Much like dating, you are always on your best behavior but once you move in together or get married, you let yourself go a bit. 

If you are business owner, you must build a culture of customer service. The culture starts with you. You build it by being consistent with all your clients, large or small. Once you have a culture, document it and train on it all the time. You must also continue to evolve your level of customer service and make it better.  

If you are unable to work on this every day within your organization, we need to talk. Schedule a 1-hour consultation today with Your Remote COO to discuss culture, customer service and how you want to improve service throughout your entire organization.

Stuart Selbst is a Partner of Your Remote COO. He is a business leader with a passion for helping others succeed. Throughout his career, he has worked to find more effective ways to organize processes while getting projects completed and keeping costs and budget in check. While mastering the skills of operational efficiency over the years, Stuart has been able to help hundreds of businesses around the globe grow consistently and profitably.