Some time ago now, at a customer service conference in Edinburgh, I saw an Australian speaker named Steve Simpson. He was one of the most engaging speakers on the day, but also had good content to back up his delivery.
His key point was that most organisations have a set of “Unwritten Ground Rules” or UGRs that define the organisation's culture and often undermine its ability to deliver to customers. Some examples of UGRs might be:
- Management say customers come first, but they don't really mean it
- It's better to keep your head down in meetings than risk speaking out
I think Steve's approach is a very powerful way to think about the potential effects of a poisonous culture. The main benefit is that it acknowledges the resistance of culture to “plexiglass management”—if you want staff to act as if customers come first then you need to show them that's what you want, not tell them.
So how do you do that? I believe people follow the money—if you reward on sales instead of satisfaction then that sends a message that you care about sales more than satisfaction. Time to put the balance right.