Service Departments Understand Customers’ Concern
Food for Thought is our way of sharing interesting concepts on corporate leadership and management with others who might find it useful. The thoughts offered are intended to be controversial and thought provoking. They always follow our motto of helping develop logical leadership.
As a leader in your company, how much personal time do you spend with the people in your sales and marketing departments? How about your product development people? Manufacturing employees? How much time do you spend with the people in the service and support departments? If you are like most CEOs, chances are that being in touch with sales takes on a much higher priority than spending time with the service guy.
People in the service and support departments of a company are probably closest to your customers, particularly customers with a concern about your products and services. Yes, your sales department probably understands why customers buy your products and services. But, the service and support department is much more in tune with how happy they are after the purchase. As a leader in your company, particularly as the CEO or a division president, how often do you get direct input from those departments, exploring where your offerings are lacking and how to improve them?
CEOs should periodically take a morning out of their busy schedule, walk over to their call center, put on a headphone and listen in on the incoming calls of one of the call center service providers. The CEO need not – in fact, should not – be a participant in the call; simply a silent observer. There is no better way to learn what customers are saying, how your front line is staving off irate customers and where in your product lines – be it goods or services – you need to make some changes.
Bill Kabele, who has served as a General Manager for a variety of companies, always made a practice of visiting the service department when he visited his remote sites – particularly, foreign sites. His rationale was that the service manager will tell you things that you might not otherwise hear because of how intermediate management filters the data. He would point out that the RMA tags in the “to-be-serviced” and returned units sitting on the shelves of service departments tell the tale of customers’ woes far better than any management report could ever do.
Whatever the nature of your business, think about the analogue of the service and support departments in your company. How can you get direct input from these front line personnel? Consider inviting a few of these front line people into your strategic planning meeting. Consider requiring product designers to spend a day in the service or support department. It is easy to recognize one of the individuals in your service or support departments by nominating them for an award, or give them a “You’ve done Good” certificate. But there is no better recognition – of not only one individual, but the entire department as a whole – than to spend a morning learning from one of them.
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