Customer Service as a Strategy AND Culture as the Engine

Stephen McNeil Director, Strategic Development GRS Group (949) 272-0021 smcneil@grs-global.com

Stephen McNeil
Director, Strategic Development
GRS Group
(949) 272-0021
smcneil@grs-global.com

Great Customer Service is a core value of most organizations.  While a statement like this (or close to it) is usually posted on a workplace wall, it begins with a bit of an obtuse and unlikely variable.

As a full time corporate soldier and adjunct business professor, I’m uniquely positioned to research the performances of a wide variety of different organizations. What I’ve found through my research is that businesses, much like personal relationships, perform better when participants are happy. Wait… “participants”, not employees? Yes, “participants.”

Today’s businesses are laser focused on their culture, fancy rallies, signs and blogs, which, oddly, are a component to cultural success. However, shouldn’t leaders also be focused on the culture and values of strategic partners, vendors, and others that may ultimately touch their product before it goes to the customer? Well, we at GRS Group are, and so should you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in meetings listening to company presidents espouse that they have a high performance culture. I’ve actually used that line myself, BUT I’ve since come to realize I was just being naïve and somewhat thick. The culture isn’t high performing.  The people and participants are! The diagnosis and ultimate perpetuation of high performance has everything to do with culture and nothing to do with it all at the same time.

As a means of foundational strategy, GRS Group focuses purely on its customers, their goals and the production of positive outcomes. We do that by concentrating our efforts on culture, organizational alignment and employees–with one key functional difference:  we target every participant in a project who may ultimately impact our customers, or contribute to the success of our product.

Customer service disengagement is costly but is also systemic of organizations that fail to recognize a great experience does not begin or end with internal employees only. The Corporate Ecosystem is complex. Below are a few culture-related consideration variables:

Hierarchies – According to the Karolinska Institutet, middle managers produce stress. The constant battle for executive level attention blended with the desire to win the admiration of constituents is bad for employees’ health (in fact it’s killing them). Flat organizations make better alliance and merger partners.

Values – What do your strategic partners value? Is employee wellness important to them? Make them tell you about it. Workplace stress is responsible for almost 50% of all in voluntary turnover. A lack of leadership’s interest in the wellness of their employees leads to a lack of loyalty which ultimately impacts customers.

Leadership – Is the leadership team trusted? There are mediating effects of leadership that can impose sanctions on customer service. For example, slow adoptions of industry leading technologies, lack of employee empowerment, and closed door policies. Does their leadership team vet your business culture as you vet theirs?

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