Customer Service Initiatives and Executive Impatience

A reader recently posted a comment on this blog that said her organization implemented a customer service initiative about a year ago and the executive team was getting anxious for results. Her question was; how long does it take before a company will see the results of a service initiative?

Usually a company sees some quick wins early in the initiative as employees are trained on the service principles and possibly implement things right away. True change in a large company (hers is a Fortune 400 company) however, takes 3-5 years. Changing a company’s culture is no small feat – there are lots of things that have to be put in place and these take time. There are certainly benefits along the way, but real results show up in that 3-5 year time frame (a bit less in a smaller company).

I know such a time frame seems daunting. And that’s the reason so many companies jump from one customer service initiative to another. They’re impatient for big results. But what happens is that the components of the initiative don’t get time to get any traction and it feels like the initiative isn’t working. So, management looks for the next flavor-of-the-month service program.

Employees are smart. They soon learn that each subsequent initiative will go away if they just wait it out. They’ll sit in the training sessions smiling to themselves knowing that “this too shall pass.”

A well-planned, well-executed service initiative will ultimately have a positive impact. It doesn’t matter if it’s my approach or some other. The key is to stay with it, adjust as you go along, and be relentless. Don’t let impatience get the best of you and send you on a search for the next big thing.

Feel free to download and share an article I wrote titled, “Sustaining a Customer Service Initiative: the Need For Long-Term Commitment.” The article may help to create support for sticking with the strategy.

I’d love to hear your comments about this important issue!

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