Is it a Customer Service Problem or a Leadership Problem?

a woman standing in front of a group of people.

Great Customer Service Starts with Great Leadership

How do you identify the difference between a customer service issue and a leadership issue?

The caller sounded desperate. “Don, we need you to come onsite right away. We’ve got some serious customer service problems we need to deal with!” 
Me: “Tell me what’s going on.” 
The caller: “Well, we’re about to lose two of our key developers, our CIO is requiring everyone to return to the office, but he’s still working remotely, and we’re getting complaints about a toxic work environment.”
Me: “You don’t have a customer service problem, you’ve got a leadership problem!”

Another caller: “Don, I need you to come onsite right away. We’ve got a serious customer service issue.”
Me: “Tell me what’s going on.”
The caller: “My team isn’t doing what I need them to do.”
Me: “Have you told them what you expect?”
The caller: “No, that’s the problem. I’m not good at that.”
Me: “You don’t have a customer service problem, you’ve got a leadership problem.”

Sure, in both of these examples, they probably do have a customer service problem, but they’re not going to solve it until they solve the leadership problem. Remember, when you’re a leader, people don’t do what you say, they do what you do. 

What is Customer Service (CS)?

CS is how you handle each point of contact with your customers during each stage of your relationship. It starts from the time when they first contact your department or business and continues for the duration of your relationship. For MSPs and other businesses, customer service includes the way you answer pre-sales questions, the onboarding process after a sale, problem resolution, security, and product upgrades and enhancements as the relationship matures. Similarly, for IT departments, customer service includes end-user onboarding, problem resolution, security, and product upgrades and enhancements. It’s all a critical part of Customer Experience.

Team Members Notice and Copy Your Leadership Skills

In the opening situation I described, the CIO had been promoted through the ranks but never received leadership training. Sure, he’d taken management training, but management training doesn’t teach you how to lead. 

Management is about performing the tasks of the job, such as budgeting, marketing, and finance, for example. Leadership, according to author John C. Maxwell, is influence, nothing more, nothing less. 

Another way to look at leadership is inspired motivation built on a foundation of impeccable integrity and genuine humility. If you’re losing key employees and getting complaints about a hostile work environment and poor customer service, it’s time to pause and reflect on your leadership skills.

Remember the Basics of Excellent Customer Service

Customers define excellent customer service by the simplicity of customer interactions. What does your Customer Effort Score reveal about customer satisfaction? 

  • How often do customers have to contact you to resolve an issue? 
  • How competent was the customer service representative? 
  • How quickly was the issue resolved? 
  • How well did they listen? 
  • How well did the frontline employees answer customer questions? 

These very basic skills must be mastered in order to meet customer expectations. 

Interpersonal Skills are Basic to Both Leadership and Customer Service

Your leadership skills will determine your corporate culture. You create a customer-focused culture by the way you treat your team members. When you act to gain new skills through continuous improvement, your team members will do that, too. When you treat your team members with compassion and empathy, when you use active listening techniques and treat your team members with dignity and respect, they will do the same in their customer service interactions. You must be a role model for the behaviors you want from your team.

Customer Satisfaction Starts with Leadership

In the two previous examples, the managers were not leaders. Neither one of them led by example and they didn’t communicate their expectations to their teams. No wonder they had unhappy customers. Their teams weren’t happy employees, they didn’t know how to build customer relationships, and even though they had good technical skills, their customer service skills were sorely lacking.

This quote from Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines sums it up, “If you don’t look after the people who are working and running your companies, you’ll have a very sad company…What makes Virgin wonderful is a wonderful group of people who believe in what they’re trying to do, who are appreciated, who are praised, not criticized, and are given the tools to do a great job.”

Can you say that about your company?

It’s not about foosball tables and gourmet food. It’s about employees who are appreciated, focused on a common goal, and given the tools they need.

Excellent service comes from happy employees. Happy employees make customers happy.

Next Level IT Customer Service Training

Enroll your team now in Compassionate Geek IT online customer service training so they can work together, get things done, and take care of customers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top