How being good at customer service can kill a business

7 Dec

The view from the CN Tower

Consider the case of a small customer-centric business.

It knows its customers intimately and enjoys enviable loyalty in return. Word spreads. Sales increase. The business grows. All good, right?

But soon our little company is a much bigger company, with all the challenges that come with customer-centricity when you’re big.

You would think that big companies would be better at servicing their customers, with their resources and staffing and budgets. But the opposite is true. As staffing increases, so grows the distance between senior management and front-line staff, and therefore the customer. Middle management are inserted to bridge the gap, thereby creating, ironically, greater distance.

When the VPs lose touch with the “floor”, it’s game over.

A whole host of internal strategic planning issues now emerge to vie for the attention of management: inter-departmental communication; the need for processes; improvements to the delivery channels to handle the increased demand; staff morale; hiring and training; internal culture. It requires an entire new level of staffing to address these. It’s hardly surprising that, in the midst of all this internal change, the business loses sight of the customer.

So the customer, ignored and left to wonder about the schizophrenia now demonstrated by the brand that used to service her so well, goes in search of a better customer experience.

Off to the smaller business she will go. And the whole doomed cycle repeats itself.

So what’s a business to do?

The Brand Interventionist Recommends

Departments that don’t talk to each other are speaking different languages to the customer, so that’s the place to start.

Communication and internal alignment will bring a business back to the customer’s experience, so the brand promise should be applied to the internal culture first.

If Brand X is all about ease and simplicity, then these need to be the mantras inside the business. Billing, marketing, staff meetings, communications, incentives – everything is influenced. The business has to wrap itself in the brand flag from the inside out.

A business that figures out how the brand promise directs the internal issues has a puncher’s chance of keeping its customers around when it grows.

 

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6 Responses to “How being good at customer service can kill a business”

  1. dongrgic December 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Great advice again Doug. That is the risk of growth and your answer is correct. “The business has to wrap itself in the brand flag from the inside out.”

    • Doug Brown December 7, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

      Thank you Don. I just worked on a brand session with a client tonight and wrapping yourself in the brand flag internally first was the critical takeaway. No argument from the client!

  2. Bob December 9, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    A great blog. I agree that larger companies are less and less responsive to customer needs and do not use positive customer
    awareness
    practices. Smaller companies and businesses are a little more in tune with these principals but, in my experience, can tend to structure themselves to make their business practice easier and try to have the customer conform to those practices and policies rather then the other way around.

    In larger companies, these practices are amplifide causing the, often accurate, perception that the larger companies simply don’t care beyond taking the customer’s money.

    Love the post… Great job. Thanks

    • Doug Brown December 10, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      Thanks for that comment Bob. I agree completely that many companies force an experience on the customer, rather than truly responding to what the customer wants. In my opinion, smart companies canvas their customers for everything from product development and utility, straight through to how they want to be marketed to. The rest do not – but at their peril. Cheers.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 12 posts that told the story of 2012 « Brand Intervention - December 22, 2012

    […] How being good at customer service can kill a business […]

  2. You’ve never seen a job interview like this before | - February 25, 2013

    […] I wrote in this recent post that successful brands wrap themselves in the brand promise from in the inside out, I could very […]

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