Customer Service – The Power of One

When we do any customer experience or customer service management consulting with a large organization, we tend to deal with decision makers, COOs, senior management folks and all that. The good thing about this is that it does mean that the organization is serious about CX. Senior management is busy after all and spending the time and effort is meaningful.

However, let me bring up a lot of my experiences and the experiences told to me by others about something I call “the power of One”.  You see, despite the best efforts of the CEO, the senior management team, the Customer Service Director and all that, the one person impacting (or damaging) the brand and customer experience is usually the lowest ranked and least paid individual – the one. I have told this story of UPS many times already but it’s worth repeating. I had a package that incurred some customs duty. While it was noted on the tracking screen, no action was initiated. I did expect a charge but was not informed otherwise. I had the shipment directed to my parent’s home for convenience and what transpired was an extremely rude, arrogant driver who demanded payment and berated my mother for being slow. I was taught to respect my parents and older folks so this was definitely over the line. What happened to all of UPS standards, customer service promises and brand? The power of one has destroyed all that. I jumped on twitter, shot off an email to UPS corporate. I had the duties refunded as an apology but I (and a few friends) avoided UPS as much as possible.

UPS is a strong global organization with a brand promise about getting your stuff delivered. Was the promise broken by the COO, the Service Director or the Country Manager (Malaysia)? No. It was broken by the guy at the bottom of the chain, who incidentally, interacts with more customers than anyone else save perhaps the contact center. So, take a minute and imagine, the guy driving around all day, battling heat and traffic is your brand ambassador. No matter how fast you got that package half-way around the world, the guy who delivers it is that one making me smile or annoy me enough to rant on social media.

Ford Malaysia is another story. Sime Darby Auto Connexion, the franchise holder for Ford in Malaysia isn’t know for great service and vehicle maintenance can be erratic. Sometimes, with this poor brand image and experience of others (word of mouth), it also takes the power of One to change. I had some serious issue with my truck’s transmission and while it was fixed reasonably, the one person who kept me up to date made the whole incident much easier to bear. A few months later, when a minor problem that looked major occurred, this same person handled a frantic customer (me) on the eve of a long road trip professionally, calmly and did the diagnosis, made the fix and I was on my way – no charge. I did mention the power of one.

What I’m trying to get here is this: at the end of the day, what matters most is the guy on the ground, interacting with customers that will play that final CX script. Yes, the people behind, the processes involved and the technology supporting him are like a well maintained engine allowing the one to execute flawlessly. Don’t forget that guy. If you do, you now know what happens.
So happen, we at Brandt International can find a way to work that one guy to make that CX difference. Hit us up in the contact page and we would be more than happy to see how we can help.

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