There are a number of highly rated leadership skills that contribute to the success of a business, some important aspects include planning, strategy, recruitment etc. I know that all of these are important and need to be given the requisite attention by any leader to see success in his business.
However in this article, I would like to address the importance of customer service to business success and what the role of a leader is to leverage this important aspect of business. Statistics show that 78% of customers ended a business relationship due to bad customer service. Putting this differently is that almost 8 out of every 1o customers served by a business do not return because of the poor treatment they receive. These dejected 8 customers will also not provide any important referrals for the business but shall give a bad report blocking potential new business.
Any entrepreneur knows that this is a very dangerous way to run a business in a limited market and if nothing significantly different is done about the service experience to turn the tide, such a business shall soon run out of customers to serve.
On the other hand statistics also show that every 9 out of 10 customers are willing to pay higher for a better service experience. Herein lies the secret sauce of great customer service in that not only does it guarantee repeat customers and great referrals but is also beneficial to the bottom line. I have found that the top Global brands also feature as the World’s best companies in customer service. Names like Amazon, Apple, Sony, Samsung, Hilton, Virgin etc.
With customer experience playing such a critical role in business profitability and sustainability, I see that it is an area a leader cannot afford to ignore, but should actually inform a great part of the leader’s agenda.
What does a leader therefore need to do to inculcate a culture of great customer experience and build a robust business?
The leadership guru Stephen Covey advises leaders to “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers”. I find that the secret to great customer experience is in how Managers treat their staff. I was not surprised to find among the list of the Global Companies reputed for great customer service the World’s best employers.
It is written of Richard Branson that he has been able to grow the global powerhouse Virgin by focusing on this key ingredient Customer Service. Richard’s secret to great customer service is this:
- He puts his employees’ first, customers second and shareholders third.
He argues that “Happy Employees equal happy customers; similarly an unhappy employee can ruin the brand experience for not just one but numerous customers. If the person who works at your Company is 100% proud of the job they’re doing, if you give them the tools to do a good job, they’re proud of the brand, if they were looked after, if they’re treated well, then they are gonna be smiling, they are gonna be happy and therefore the customer will have a nice experience”. Richard concludes that “effectively, in the end shareholders do well, the customers do better and your staff remains happy”; in an interview with Inc.com.
I find that in instructing on leadership the scriptures laud this one important aspect. Treat your people well. Peter writes that I exhort you, I who am a fellow elder …., Shepard the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly, not as being lords over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock.
When God walked the earth in the flesh, as Jesus Christ, He exemplified a leadership style that is now popularly known as Servant Leadership. While teaching His disciples how to practice this He says “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in high positions use their authority over them. But it is not this way among you. Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave of all”.
I truly see that the differentiator to business success is in providing great customer service and the secret in this is in treating employees with integrity, extending to those we have authority over the exact same experience we would like them to extend to our most valued clients. The businesses that have learned this reap the desired good fruit. According to the Word of God, this is the only leadership value extoled and shall therefore not only guarantee great service but well balanced success with all other stakeholders in a business.