Why Customer Service Improvement Initiatives Often Fail

One of the (if not the) top reasons that I see many customer service initiatives fail to reach their full potential is due to a lack of accountability. Too often managers ignore substandard service performance from an employee (or employees) because the manager is either uncomfortable with confrontation, worried the employee might quit, or they believe they'll handle the problem at performance appraisal time - which is absolutely the worst time to surprise an employee with any performance issue.

Another reason I see managers avoid confronting substandard service issues is that they feel the whole customer service subject is too subjective and it's hard to "prove" that an employee's service performance is unacceptable. They ask, "how can I measure something as subjective as an employee's service performance?" I always respond by asking, "Can you tell me who your service superstars are? Can you tell me who your service problem employees are?" The answer is always yes - they know exactly who is strong and who is weak when it comes to customer service.

So while judging the quality of an employee's service performance may be somewhat subjective; we need to get over it and get on with addressing the problem. Don't look for some excuse for not confronting the issue. The longer you avoid confronting the offending employee, the more that employee alienates your customers and compromises the credibility of your service initiative.

My all-time favorite leadership quote is this:

"Intolerable service exists
when intolerable service is tolerated."

You're not doing anyone any favors by delaying taking action.

Be honest with yourself - Are there any situations in which you are tolerating intolerable service in your organization?

In my next post I will provide you with a 5-step coaching process that can help you plan and deliver coaching to any employee who is not living up to your organization's service expectations.