We’re Not Happy Till You’re Not Happy

I must be getting old; I’m certainly getting grumpy.

First, my new ‘mate’ at Carphone Warehouse, Gaz, thought that I’d gone into his shop to try and be his friend, rather than to buy a new phone.  When it came to payment he finally stopped calling me ‘mate’ and, after a quick look at my credit card, said “Thanks Stuart.” If he’d called me Stu and given me a high five, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

Then, later in the evening, my wife and I went to a local restaurant. After a 10-minute wait at the bar, the head waiter, presumably Gaz’s brother, waltzed over and asked, “So, how ya doing, guys?” Well, not as well as we would be if you’d come to see us 10 minutes ago and called us Mr and Mrs Cross!

The waiter gave us the menus and my wife asked him about the soup of the day. The look of shock and tension on his face suggested that she’d asked him the final question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He quickly decided to phone a friend, and went off to the kitchen to confirm that the soup was, in fact, tomato and basil.

Some of my Canadian friends joke that Air Canada’s strap line is We’re not happy till you’re not happy and I’m beginning to feel that many organisations go out of their way to fulfil that motto.

Service leadership, however, is a potential source of competitive advantage for many businesses. John Lewis, Singapore Airlines, Lexus and First Direct have all built their success on their ability to provide their customers with friendly, caring, accessible and knowledgeable people who can deliver expert advice and support.

The role of the front-line teams in delivering the service proposition is fundamental to these companies’ success, and they commit significant resources to training and development. Managers and executives are focused on customer satisfaction and loyalty, as much as they are on the financials.

The key capabilities of service leaders are:

  • The technical expertise of front-line teams;
  • Operational excellence, where it directly impacts on the customer;
  • Interpersonal skills of front-line teams;
  • Customer service innovation management;
  • Managing customer issues and problems; and
  • Understanding customer needs.

This means that you should hire for attitude and then develop the skills, not the other way round. The danger is that you fail to put sufficient effort and focus into either your recruitment or the development of your people, with the result that Gaz and his ‘mates’ become the face and the brand of your business.

In a desert of poor, ineffective customer service, a service leadership strategy can help you create an oasis of customer loyalty. In what ways could a superior service model help your business?


To find out more contact Stuart by clicking here or call +44-(0)1636-526111.