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Close your customer service department

I interviewed Val Gooding, CEO of the healthcare company BUPA, a while ago. She pointed out that BUPA no longer uses the definition of ‘customer service’ that 99% of organizations use. She’s right and the 99% are wrong. Here’s what she said:

“We use a new definition of customer service. It’s not the interface, the edge where your company meets customers. It’s the theme that runs through everything you do, from the Boardroom right on down.”

– Val Gooding, CBE, CEO, BUPA. Named by Fortune magazine as one of the world’s 50 most powerful women in business

Steve Ridgway, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, told me when he was COO of that company that Virgin, too, practises what he called “whole body customer Service”. It’s the same underlying principle as runs through how BUPA, Amazon and one or two other organizations do business.

In a sense, EVERYTHING, from your business model to the agenda of your board meetings to your staff motivation programmes (if, god forbid, you have them) is about customer service.

Tom Peters is fond of saying in his seminars “Close your customer service department! Shut it down! Lock the doors!” He’s using shock tactics to make the same point: Customer service departments are either complaint departments or call centres used to queue customers.

They are not sufficient. Customer service is much bigger than that. Yet the vast majority of organizations don’t get it.

This tip is a sample from a book I am putting together called
Take One A Day
365 Ways to
Get Closer
to Your Customer

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