Change Management and Customer Service

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

A reader of of my online newsletter, Tools for a Change, shared this concern with me:

“The biggest challenge I face is supporting our business to change its culture around customer service. The risk is that if we don’t, our competition will continue to eat our market share.”

Here was my response: It’s the question of why before how. You’ve already decided on the how. You said that you need to improve customer service in order to regain market share. And you may be right. But it sounds like your organization is stuck on why. People don’t see why you are talking about changing. And people are not interested in following your how (your ideas and plans) until they fully grasp why something new is needed.

Without a deep understanding of why, you’ll probably get reluctance and resistance. And good customer service is not built on a foundation of people who are angry at their employers.

Rather than trying to sell people on customer service, take a step back. Ask yourself, what makes you so certain that poor customer service is what’s eating away at your market share? What evidence do you have that this situation could be critical? I’ll guess that you’ve got some pretty compelling answers to that question.  Now ask yourself, do people throughout the organization see things this way? I’ll bet they don’t.

If I’m right, then your task is to make a compelling case for change. Don’t just give people the tired old PowerPoint presentation, but consider how you can get the message across in ways that grab people emotionally. For example, videos of real customers talking about why they have left your company. Research that shows a correlation between your drop in customer service scores and market share. These are off the top of my head. You need to think of things that make sense for your organization.

Good luck.