To win hearts and minds, of both internal and external customers, excellent customer service needs to be driven from the very top of the organisation. Delighting customers should be truly embedded throughout all departments – failure to do so, more often than not, results in failure to exceed customer expectations.

Unravelling the DNA of organisations that consistently achieve great customer delivery, points towards strong commitment from senior management which is then replicated and driven throughout the whole organisation. While exceptions to this rule undoubtedly exist, such delivery will not be sustainable in the long-term.

Being passionate about customer service, I take time to understand what differentiates the bad from the great in terms of their customer service delivery and I try to get a feel for organisations that not only “talk the talk, but walk the walk”. A common thread, I find, is one that almost verges on being obsessive compulsive and in my opinion, companies that consistently excel in the area of customer service have obsessive leaders.  Additionally, senior management continually engage and communicate with both staff and customers and they have tangible benchmarks to monitor delivery and drive positive outcomes that are sustainable over time.

“Moments of truth” are identified and staff coached on how best to live and breathe positive customer experiences. Great service delivery is celebrated at every opportunity.

However, we find that the reality is often somewhat different. How many times have you been into a public washroom and thought to yourself “I wonder when was the last time the proprietor or manager ever visited”? It never ceases to amaze me how unhygienic facilities are; so perhaps it’s no surprise that senior management never visit! This is a small indicator but one that also speaks volumes about whether those managers at the top of the organisation are passionate about engaging positively with their customers.

The second example is something I personally experienced.  My company was tendering for customer service training and when conducting some background research we spoke to the managing director who stated “that he tries to stay as far away from the public as possible!”  His admission not only astonished me but worse still, it was made with the service manger present. While I gave the MD the benefit of the doubt, I couldn’t help but think never a truer word spoken than in jest.