Accountability in customer service

Accountability in customer service is our ability to account for our business actions and decisions. It is our willingness to show our customers that we really do care about them, and carry with this an unspoken pledge to respond to a customer’s request for information or help.

Let’s  assume that employees want to do their best when hired, however a company’s ability to create a culture where people are accountable is a daunting task. Without accountability our customer service winds up with the grim consequences of empty promises, excuses and blaming others; most likely the customers.  Compare it to being a parent; we help our children through guidance and education to become accountable for their  own actions.

In order to create this culture, we then need to think about encouraging and rewarding people for being accountable. We need to nurture different opinions, respect each others points of view and have open communications where people are not afraid to present their opinions. Our front line staff so often sees life as it really is, and can provide informative insights into customer needs.

We also need to develop levels of trust for our customer service representatives. People have to be able to make independent decisions, however these decisions can be based on a team spirit that shares information, and provides feedback for continual improvement. Isn’t it up to team leaders and managers to supply the platforms that the customer service representatives can use as models, but still think independently for exemplary customer service?

Learning is the key to acquiring the skills, but working in a supportive environment helps each employee practice and hone their skills. We can never act as if there is a ” one size fits all” or that we have all the answers. Discovering new ideas mean fresh outlooks and makes room for expansion.

Finally the willingness to admit mistakes, and allowing others to make mistakes without chastising them can improve accountability. We don’t want the customers to suffer because one of our staff has made a mistake and is afraid to admit it; we want to be supportive of that staff member and not throw him under the bus, but educate him how to solve the problem and build a sense of responsibility.

photo credit: Grégory Tonon

8 Responses to “Accountability in customer service”

  1. Norma Huibregtse said:

    Jun 14, 10 at 6:27 pm

    I enjoyed your post and glad to see we think alike. Unless your culture is focused on both improving the experience for both your internal and external customers, you can’t achieve sustained growth. Check out my blog post about empowering employees at http://www.captivatedcustomers.com/2010/01/14/3-cs-that-drive-employee-loyalty/. Thanks!

  2. ANR said:

    Jun 15, 10 at 9:05 am

    You bet- EXACTLY the issue- We expect first line service personnel to manage customer issues effectively but more often than not we don’t give them the authority to FIX THE DISSATISFACTION. Customers want their problems fixed now and they dont want to hear “I cant do anything and you will need to speak to my manager”. Give you employees the leeway and trust that they will make the right decision to ensure a positive customer experience.

  3. Wash said:

    Nov 15, 10 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for pinging for clarification. My intention was to say that Mountain View was on fire in July, but if you’re looking to put your home on the market *today*, you should be careful about your number because buyers are more uncertain now.

    (Just like higher numbers at the pump, people will get used to the higher percentages. It’ll take some getting used to though.)

    The line I would emphasize to them is, “Sellers are confident because of this disparity [ed. low CDOM number], but we’re moving into a slower part of the Silicon Valley market cycle in a period of uncertainty with mortgages.”

    I’ll update the first line to make it more clear and I’m going to add a comma between “cycle” and “in” in the last sentence because there are two separate ideas there.

    Cheers,
    Steve

  4. Snodgrass said:

    Jan 01, 11 at 7:00 pm

    Nice article. Keep it up. Cheers

  5. Rigo said:

    Jan 09, 11 at 2:14 pm

    Good post!
    Keep posting

  6. Cheryl said:

    Jan 11, 11 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks!

  7. Bundrick said:

    Feb 18, 11 at 10:00 pm

    Great read. Hard to come across such great information all in one place. Thanks for your effort here.

  8. Shehab said:

    Jul 25, 11 at 5:35 am

    This is very good!! Thanks