Forbes magazine featured an excellent article recently that explored the root cause of customer service disasters. We have all witnessed this, even if it was just by reading the news about a company that just seems unable to respond to a crisis and the customer service operation just collapses.
It’s always easy to use hindsight once a crisis is over. Investment can be redirected. New resource can be hired and trained. But what if you don’t get a second chance? When a major company goes into meltdown the executive team is unlikely to survive and lead the recovery – that’s if the company survives at all. The Forbes feature argues that this is particularly important, as a company is growing from small or medium to big. It’s too easy to let your customer service operation slip behind to the point where it is no longer fit for purpose.
The answer is to focus on building leadership infrastructure into the organization long before a crisis in leadership develops. There are four suggested steps:
1. Quality leadership with deep experience; there is no substitute for a great team with real experience. If your leadership team needs more firepower, you may need to consider hiring a leader with extensive experience, at least to get you through the fast growth phase.
2. Information gathering and analytics acumen; gather information on what your customers think of you, what are your rivals doing, who is leading your market? Ensure you are using the right metrics to really encourage improvement – are your metrics outdated or likely to fail, as the business gets bigger?
3. Communications rhythm; Be open and clear inside the company. Allow questions to the management, but most of all, be clear and consistent. Make decisions, ensure everyone is aware, then action them.
4. Planning and plan governance; forecasting, budgeting, and performance management all need to be more controlled in a larger environment. You can no longer plan and execute at the same time. Take time out to plan how your planning processes need to work.
It’s great news if your organization is on track to move from medium to large, but don’t wait for your operations to go into meltdown just because you didn’t organize the leadership to also grow. Upgrade your leadership infrastructure and avoid a disaster that could ruin your reputation with customers.
Let me know what you think about the Forbes advice by leaving a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.