Company Culture and Customer Service

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Everyone knows that customer services is one of the most important factors in a company’s success. Yet why is it that in most parts of the world, you still can’t ring your power/phone/insurance company without having to wait 10 minutes only to then get in an argument with a representative?

How many companies actually run quality assurance on their customer service? Judging from my general experience here in Madrid, I would say relatively few. Here is just one story of countless I could tell you

I recently went to a trendy little cafe in town on a Sunday morning with two friends. One wanted a decent brunch to eat, the other and myself decided on just having a coffee to save ourselves for lunch at with the suegros (in-laws). We sat down at an empty table and after 15 minutes of chatting without anyone approaching us, we decided to go to the bar to order. At which point we were told, quite rudely, that brunch was only served to those with a reservation. Brunchie tried to be all graceful about it, said it didn’t matter and he would settle for a coffee and a croissant. To which I said, full of maturity, “no screw that. I don’t want their stupid coffee anyway.”

This is a popular cafe, they clearly didn’t need our service and in the scheme of things didn’t lose a huge amount from our non-interaction. But I won’t go back there, and when people suggest we do, I will tell them what happened.

This is not an uncommon experience, unfortunately.

Spain can’t be the only place to deal with these kinds of issues, so here is what I think is fundamentally missing in these experiences in terms of customer service:

Company culture

It could just be me, but it seems that many working in customer service don’t actually care about whether they do their job well or not. A good customer experience, or even a sale doesn’t seem to be high on their priority list. 

This can be changed by actively working to engage employees, by giving them a reason to actually like the company, even if they don’t necessarily love the job. If people have to spend 8 hours a day working, the work should at least be mildly enjoyable.

It needs to be worth it in a way other than just financial compensation. Employees need to learn, they need community, they need support, they need to know the opportunities available to them, they need help getting to where they want to go.

From there, the concept of customer will change

Rather than the customer being an annoyance, they will be an opportunity. Rather than a blank face, they will be real people – potential regulars, people to build a relationships with.

Possibly, some will enjoy work more. After all, people are happier when they’re more productive or feel like they’re contributing towards something effectively.

Which will improve company culture

Which will improve customer service

can you see the cycle here?

3 thoughts on “Company Culture and Customer Service

  1. I agree with this! Travelling around the world I see how different could be customer service and attitude to this!

  2. Regarging customer service I have noticed a big difference between protestant and non-protestant countries. The most extreme example, USA vs Spain

    • It’s interesting you say that, John. I tend to put a lot down to the traditional cultural values that come from religion too. I definitely put the stoicism and need to feel productive through hard work ideals of many Anglo-Saxon countries down to protestantism. But it could also do with temperatures – people from traditionally colder countries have generally had to work a lot harder to survive through harsh winters over the years, for example. There are certainly a lot of possible contributing factors! Regarding customer service I’m not sure, but the world isn’t going to de-globalise any time soon so it’s time for many companies the world over to step up to the plate.

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