It would probably be impossible to answer that question with a simple “yes” or “no.” But it’s still worth asking, since many companies brag that their managers or employees have been trained to offer the best customer service.
What does that mean?
Usually, they’re referring to specialized training like the kind offered by Ritz-Carlton, which leverages its own reputation for great customer service to show other companies how to do it. Or maybe something more comprehensive, like the week-long courses given by the Disney Institute.
If it only were that easy. While it’s true that businesses can fine-tune their customer service through seminars, a series of classes almost certainly can’t fix a company’s service problems.
First of all, many of the courses out there are fakes — which is to say, they’re profit-optimization seminars masquerading as customer-service classes. Employees and managers are being taught how to make more money, not provide excellent service.
Worst of all, they’re being told that in making the company more profitable, they are serving their customers. That’s not true. They are serving their shareholders.
The legit seminars (I include Disney and Ritz-Carlton in the group) can only make good managers better. But if the company is hated by its own customers, it’s just a band-aid on a gaping wound. The classes are no cure for a toxic, customer-hostile corporate culture.
Fixing that is almost impossible. I’ve seen many companies try. They’ve held up their management training as evidence that they’re a changed company. But change — true institutional change — must start at the top. The executives have to walk a different walk, talk a different talk. Or they need to be replaced.
So the next time someone tells you about their company’s “leadership” training, using it as a selling point, be skeptical. Customer service training isn’t evidence of better customer service.
It’s just evidence that they have a customer service problem.
(Photo: Atelier Tee e/Flickr Creative Commons)