Great Customer Service Training
Casual, Moderate, and Intense Levels of Customer/Partner Focus

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"What's Mr. Smith's condition?" asked the raspy voice on the phone.

"He's recovering so well he'll be going home in a few days," answered the nurse. "Whom shall I say called?"

"This is Smith calling. My doctor won't tell me anything!"

Part of the reason so many organizations aren't really customer-focused is because their managers don't know the difference. They're innocently ignorant. These managers don't understand what intense customer focus really looks like. And they don't fully appreciate the why and how of balancing their focus on the final or ultimate customers with their focus on external partners, such as distributors, retailers, dealers, agents, suppliers, physicians, and such.

The following chart illustrates the vast differences in customer and partner focus. To make our teams or organizations into high performers, we need to get all of our focus and activities into the "Intense" column.

Casual--The needs and expectations of markets, customers and external partners (like distributors or suppliers) are lumped together

Moderate--A few segments and partnerships have been highlighted

Intense--The needs and expectations of key market/customer segments and partnerships have been prioritized

Casual--Infrequent market, customer, and external partner data collection and analysis

Moderate--A trickle of data helps to focus improvement activities

Intense--Major strategic and operating decisions are based on a heavy stream of continuous data

Casual--Managers and internal production or support teams occasionally see customers or partners

Moderate--Visits from and visits to customers and partners are becoming more frequent

Intense--The boundaries between customers, partners, and our organization has blurred

Casual--Some customer and partner expectations are occasionally collected

Moderate--Expectations are prioritized and weighted along with effectiveness ratings to identify performance gaps

Intense--Customer and market gap analysis provide competitive benchmarks and broad market comparisons

Casual--Product/service development, improvements, and innovations are pushed out to the market

Moderate--Customer/partner input and pilot testing help identify and shape innovation and improvement

Intense--Customers, partners, and people working in the field explore, experiment with, and guide improvements and innovations

Casual--Budgets (primarily through sales and marketing) focus on customer acquisition

Moderate--Increased investments in service/quality research, development, and improvement

Intense--Customer retention and partner improvement is a key investment focus

Casual--Departmental organization structure follows internal logic and needs

Moderate--Process improvement and re-engineering and refocuses and restructures the organization

Intense--A decentralized, team-based organization is build around key markets, customer/partner priorities, and strategic processes

Casual—Customer service training teaches everyone how to smile and "handle" customer and partner complaints

Moderate--Training teaches how to trace the root cause of errors and eliminate them

Intense--Training provides the tools to identify internal and external customers and partners, prioritize their expectations, analyze performance gaps, and make improvements

A useful exercise is for management teams to individually assess their position on each section of this chart. Comparing answers and discussing differing points of view can reveal plenty of improvement opportunities. Better yet, are ratings from customers and/or internal partners.

A shake out of technologies companies will continue to give us plenty of examples of what happens when service/quality levels are only Casual or Moderate. We've all had our fill of dealing with companies who provide a useful service or technology but can't even answer the phone or provide the most basic customer support. Trying to get service support from one of these companies is about as much fun as being poked in the eye with a sharp stick.

Many of these mediocre companies are one-technology-wonders who developed a specialized product or found a narrow technical niche and have never really had to compete for business. They haven't had to worry about service because there were always more customers to replace those lost through careless neglect. Their casual levels of service/quality make them casualties in company graveyards.

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