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What does it take to be a Customer Service Leader?

I marvel at the endless publications of the self-help books that are published year after year. I mean, the information is out there, all the tricks in the books are available for anyone to miraculously lose weight, get in shape, think positive, be a better person, get rich, etc., the “how to” information is readily available. What is lacking, however; is the attitude of the reader to own up to the opportunity and start on a consistent, long and relentless journey to accomplishing that goal. Not easy!

 John Tschohl, President and founder of Service Quality Institute (SQI) says; “One of the major weaknesses of most organizations is top management’s lack of a service strategy”.  I get that, and I understand it, too. You see, CEO´s and President’s top priority in business is the bottom line… profits! Since this business of customer service is such an elusive topic, it´s quite difficult for the finance guys to quantify it into numbers. It is an intangible figure that you´ll never, ever find it in any company’s balance sheet. Hence, the attitude of most top management is that customer service has no, or very low importance on the company strategy because of what is perceived to have a probable low economic impact on the bottom line.

Why most companies don’t do it or even try? Because of two reason; the first reason is because it is not easy. All of the training books and well-structured manuals in the market; like SQI´s and others have available, cannot accomplish their goal in making companies customer service successful through their beautifully packaged products alone. You see, I´ve learned in my many years in the retail bank business that it is not about the product; it´s about the attitude that most CEO´s and Presidents of companies place on this complex subject.

Here is the irony; most top management spends thousands, if not millions of dollars in advertisement and spend only a fraction of that money in training and developing their staff. Top management is more focused in keeping a fierce advertisement campaign against the competition than investing in training and developing their people. I have noticed that successful companies have one thing in common: they are focused on, and first sell, customer service…the product is secondary. No, I am not saying sell substandard product, of course not. I am saying that the culture of a successful company is wrapped around the service discipline that the customer comes first.

The second reason; Top management must be consistently and totally involved in the process, walk the walk and talk the talk. Someone at the top in management must be directly responsible to this quest.  Several years ago, Mr. Tschohl sold a pretty hefty and pricy training program contract to a local, large bank company here in El Salvador. Amazingly, John sold the idea and top management all agreed to embark on the development of their service culture. The program was launched at a huge company kick-off rally and soon after they set sails on to this new culture venture. Sadly, only six months into the campaign, the project fell flat, it had been put on the back burner. What happened? I can only assume that once management gave the green light to kick start the project, they took their hands off the wheel and did not manage the process of the development of their service culture. Mr. Tschohl, early in our relationship advised me that his programs have a do or die factor; top management needs to be involved in it, always! If top management is not, he said, this program will be a flash in the pan.  

During the past 18 years, and with the guidance of my Service Guru, John Tschohl and his training products, I have personally managed the Customer Service Culture of our company. First, starting it in El Salvador, then, one by one, I gained the momentum necessary to spread the concept of this culture throughout Central America, the Caribbean and Ecuador.

If a picture is worth one thousand words, then the following three frames of performance should speak volumes of how SQI provided us with the tools necessary to achieve our extraordinary results.

Feel free to get in touch with Oscar Orozco.  Executive Director

@ Banco Promerica, S.A.     503-2513-5000     

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