customer service

Building an Effective Customer Service Organization

May 12, 2015
Empowering your customer service employees will fix your customer service failures.

The problem with customer service today is not that companies don't have representatives taking your call. Rather, it's that when they do, they don't take real action to solve your problem. This, more than anything, makes customers angry!

The temptation for leaders and managers is to put in place customer service processes, and then to train employees to respond to customer complaints and demands accordingly. Managers who do this are hiding behind their army of customer service employees, who are empowered to do the bare minimum. And the minimum usually doesn’t help. Adios leadership!

A true leader will make sure that customer service employees are empowered to do more than release a ticket number.

For example, I recently gave a German telecom provider very bad scores for their customer service--for a good reason. The entire experience was from the beginning a total frustration. After signing the contract, nothing was delivered and nothing happened; I received only empty promises. During numerous calls, I could feel the inactivity and sense that the organization was full of obstacles.

At another company I called for customer service, I could hear the customer service representative yawning as he talked to me--and the service he provided was, as you'd expect, unhelpful. At yet another company, the customer service representative told me to start coordinating activities between their sub-service providers, although the contract I had signed was only with the company.

That's why the moment I see an advertisement saying “our customer service has a face” or “you will talk to real people” or anything similar, I tend to take that as a sign to avoid this company.

For a company wanting to grow, excellent customer service is of paramount importance.

A true leader will make sure that customer service employees are empowered to do more than release a ticket number. A true customer service organization gets results for the customers and, consequently, results for the company.

When I take the helm in a company, I always first look at things like:

  • How many degrees of freedom do the employees have and in what areas?
  • Do employees really feel “empowered” or is it just another word in a process description or corporate vision?
  • How many obstacles must the employees circumvent before they can truly solve customer issues?
  • Are the customer's problems solved and how fast?

My advice to a manager who wants to become a leader is: Call your customer service yourself with a problem and learn how they respond.

Would you be happy?

If not. Start removing the obstacles faced by your customer service representatives and empower them to solve the customers' problems -- and fast!

About the Author

R. Paul Vuolle | CEO

R. Paul Vuolle, CEO of Bellevue SME Advisors GmbH in Switzerland and Germany, works actively with small and medium (SME) size manufacturing companies in Europe in SCM/Outsourcing, logistics, turnaround and restructuring, market expansion, as well as succession planning and financing. He also frequently supports technology start- ups in building up their business. He is the author of Lead Now, Manage Later: The Straight Shooter's Guide to Business Success.

Paul has over 20 years operational industry experience in engineering, electronics, industrial automation, building automation, investment goods like electrical drives, automatic test & measurement systems, HV Transformer production systems. During his career he has worked in manufacturing industries in supply chain management, outsourcing, logistics, production, R&D and successfully selling to international large key accounts. Paul has also run a sizeable amount of M&A transactions in numerous countries around the world.

He has built up his experience working in various leadership positions and functions in large corporations, such as ABB, and having executive positions in medium-size family companies and as a technology entrepreneur.

Paul is MSc. E.E. from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich as well as BSc.E.E. from Helsinki Institute of Technology.

Paul is a long time member of IEEE and of its Industrial Applications Society.

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