Poor Customer Service
A team that provides general administrative services (G.A.S.) asked for support in providing stronger customer service. Through the course of several meetings, we explored the team’s services, their perceived value to customer, and opportunities for improvement.
Discovering the Story
What we learned:
- Staff thoughts and emotions about their jobs
- Staff perceptions about their responsibilities
- Staff attitude about customers
It seems that they had a “story” about their place in the organization. It went something like this:
We are here to provide a service to the organization, but the customers don’t do their part and make it really hard on us. We have to do more work, hold their hands, and do what they really should be doing. While we feel unappreciated and are frustrated, we are dedicated to working hard, being responsible, and doing the best we can. We can’t make changes that will have much effect on the situation because we are just little peons. The higher-ups control everything.
Exploring Other Perspectives
Over the course of the meetings we challenged them in various ways to open up their erspectives and discover other stories that fit their situation and values.
It was common knowledge (although unspoken) that some customers were neither satisfied by the level of support they received from G.A.S., nor impressed by the competence of the G.A.S. team. But, as is typical of organizational conflict, no one was talking about the problems. We proposed a plan for the G.A.S. team to invite their key clients to a meeting to discuss how their service could be improved.
Each meeting opened with a statement of intent that clearly described the purpose of the meeting and framed the context:
We asked you to meet with us today because we want to provide excellent customer service and would like to talk with you about how we are doing and what we can do to improve. We would like to start by describing our role in the organization and the services we provide. Then, we will ask you to tell us about your experience with us.
Though each client meeting was different, the G.A.S. team and customer teams learned a lot in those conversations:
- Each group learned what the situation looked like from the other party’s perspective and developed more patience with each other as result.
- The G.A.S. team dispelled their mistaken theories about their customers’ motivations and learned how clueless the customers were about company policies and procedures.
- Customers learned how much support the G.A.S. team was already providing and how much more they could and would do for them.
Together they found quick and easy solutions to the problems each group faced, and they left each meeting feeling a whole lot better about themselves and each other.
The Result: A New Story
After completing five or six customer meetings, the G.A.S. team was starting to develop a new story that went something like this:
Our job is to serve people in the organization who need our help and expertise. It’s not their job to do this stuff every day, so they can’t keep up with all the changes and nuances in the system. We are the experts in administrative processes, and our job is to free our customers to do the mission-critical work of this organization. Anything we can do to make the processes just a little easier on them is worth exploring.
Healthy and Productive Teams
Results like this highlight the value of confronting conflict and having those crucial conversations. Sometimes people feel ill-equipped to deal with an issue alone. In those cases it makes sense to bring in an organizational consultant. We are passionate about helping people work together better. If you are trying to build a healthy and productive team, don’t do it alone, connect with Credo Consulting and ask for a free consultation.