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I spoke at yet another customer service conference/seminar last week, and it was great, but again the same question nags at me: why is it only the good and great organisations that go to these things?

I mean, you never see the budget airlines, and certainly not local borough councils and county councils, and I could name many more!

I’ve concluded that the ones that need it – that really, really need it – either are so convinced that they are good, despite overwhelming evidence on the contrary, or they are just too ashamed to turn up.

On the other hand, the good and the great companies realise that the best way to learn is from others, especially others who are good, and that there is always something to learn on the continuous improvement road to greatness.

Nowadays, more than ever though, I think they also realise that there have been many improvements in the support available to the industry, especially in term of technology, specialist consultancy and training, at affordable prices, to make their jobs easier, and their companies better.

For example, telephony and CRM can now be seamlessly linked to give a ‘surprise and delight’ experience to customers and prospects rather than the terrible IVR nightmare. Mystery shopping can be done by real customer service professionals who know much more than just customers about what is needed to impress customers, and can link to staff ideas and concerns; training can be done often much better outside the classroom through mentoring, workbook programmes and qualifications; and much more.

It surprises me sometimes, in some ways, that the organisations that were great 14 years ago when we set up the Institute of Customer Service, are still primarily the ones we still think are great, and that only a few other brave ones have joined them. But it shouldn’t really surprise me. Not only did they start first, and believe all this stuff: they have kept on listening and learning, and attending events like last week.

Long may it be so.

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About Paul Cooper

Until March 2009, Paul had been a director, and one of early team, of the Institute of Customer Service from 1998. During this time, he was responsible at various times for sales, marketing, PR and media. He spent much of his time speaking at conferences and in the media about all aspects of customer service, in the UK and internationally.

Since leaving ICS, Paul continues to carry out speaking engagements, and has become a director of Customer Plus, a UK consultancy led by Richard Beevers, based in Duffield, specialising in customer service and marketing.

In 2011, Paul was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Call Centre & Customer Service awards.

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