What is the single most destructive action related to a customer service culture?

How to destroy your customer centric culture

What is the single most destructive action related to a customer service culture?

The answer to the question actually has several inter-related parts. If you want to destroy your ability to create a customer service culture (and deliver excellent customer service) take the view that customer service is a cost center, or necessary overhead that needs to be reduced, and exhibit short term thinking that focuses on the short-term bottom line.

Improving customer service is an endeavor that results in long term improvements in the bottom line, and not short term improvements. If you look at short term results, AND, you look at the costs of better customer service, what you will see is a negative return on investment, again in the short term.

For example, retail companies often try to staff their stores to save money. They employ the absolute minimum number of staff, and on the surface of it, there’s sense to it. You don’t want staff standing around doing nothing. But the long term result is destructive. The stores become messy, articles lack prices, or go out of stock, and customers can’t get the help they need. Word spreads that doing business with these stores is a pain in the behind, and over time, customers stop coming in.

Short term, the store saves on salaries. Long term it loses much more from the business it loses and customers that are not retained.

But consider also what message this short term cost-cutting sends to the employees on the floor. It says:

Management does not consider the customers important enough to spend enough money so that the customer experience is improved.

Why should employees value customer service if the company itself clearly will not spend the money to improve it. They don’t. They develop an “I don’t care attitude”, and paradoxically, they work less and less with less and less dedication. It’s a fast track to a downhill slide, and most of us have seen retail stores that go downhill as a result of short term immediate cost savings. I’ve seen a number of stores in large chains end up closed as a result.

Author: Robert Bacal

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