Leading Customer Service

Leading Customer Service

Good customer service doesn’t begin nor end with the customer.  

It begins with the leader and, well, I don’t believe it ever ends.

Defining Customer Service

You may have heard the saying that, “customer service is not a department,” right.  You may have a department called Customer Service, but by doing so, you make it feel as though that’s where it’s all taken care of.

  • But what about you, the leader?
  • Aren’t you supposed to be involved?
  • Don’t you have some say in the matter?

Absolutely, you do!  

If you want to dig even deeper, you should see that it’s everyone’s responsibility, not just yours, not just the Customer Service Department’s, but everyone who works within the organization. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the organism healthy and functioning well.

Leadership is Influence

But leaders influence.  Some positively, some negatively.  Either one of those effects others’ customer service abilities.  You need to treat every employee you come in contact with, with the utmost sincerity and respect.

If you don’t do it, your employees won’t do it.  Unless you’re dedicated to taking the reigns to develop superior service in your employees, it’s not going to happen.

Taking a customer service class here and there or reading quotes on a poster once a month, is not going to furnish that sustained motivation that your employees need to provide that WOW service.


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Doing Your Whole Job

“I don’t have time to take on anything extra.”  How many times have you heard that or thought it?  Well first, customer service is not “something extra.”

Customers are where your revenue and profit comes from.  In any organization, there’s typically somewhere else they could go, or at least just stop coming. So when you’re that dependent on something like customers, how can you call service, “something extra?”

In Lee Cockerell’s (former VP of Operations, Walt Disney World Resort) new book, The Customer Rules, he points out that:

 “Great leaders speak loudly and often about what they want their organizations to focus on and what employees are expected to do.”

Hello . . .  How many of you, or other leaders you know in your organization, speak loudly about customer service?  But you always hear about sales, production, etc.

Keeping Ahead of the Pack

Don’t wait for customer service to get bad before you do anything about it.  By then it’s too late.  The damage has been done.  Now you’re into damage-control mode – which takes a lot more effort.

Monkey see, monkey do, here’s an easy activity to do (didn’t mean for that to rhyme, but I’ll take it).  Go to a few local retail stores or restaurants.  Spend just a few minutes in each one, just observing the employees.  You’ll be able to tell what the management is like within just a couple of minutes because the employees walk the leader’s talk.

No matter how good the stores’ customer service “program” is, it won’t be successful unless the leaders walk the talk.

You can’t just focus on the everyday business stuff – products, marketing, sales.  In his book, Lee goes on to say that, “Managers have to recognize that sustained profits depend on their ability to generate consistent, ongoing, excellent service”.  You have to keep good service in the forefront of everyone’s mind if you want it to be consistent.

A Whole New World

We don’t live in a world anymore where we can focus on one product and be the only place to get it.  You may come up with a one of kind product, but you, very soon, will have competition.  You must lead the customer service attitude.

“But seriously, I have very little time.”  In Beverly Kay & Julie Winkle Giulioni’s newest book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, they say it so perfectly – “let’s get real.  You’re having conversations already . . . What if you could redirect some of that time and some of those conversations to focus on careers?”

In this case, bettering customer service is bettering a career.  A few words here, and a few words there.  Just be sure you’re backing up those words with what you do.

Leadership By Example

Most people aren’t going to personally try to get their teams to improve customer service.  It has to come from you.  If you bring the horse to the watering hole, the horse will have a drink.  But if you offer a trough, the horse will always be able to get a drink.

You’re always looking for new and better ways to increase sales, improve products, or streamline production.  If you can’t increase customers or keep the ones you have . . . none of that will matter.

Do you walk the talk when it comes to customer service?  How much time do you spend talking to employees?  How much time could you spend talking to employees? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

Image Sources: image.naldzgraphics.net

L2L Contributing Author


  1. mattmichnal on April 30, 2013 at 2:06 am

    I really enjoyed this blog post about leading in customer service. I think it’s extremely important for companies to focus on customer service and treating them right. My favorite part of your post was when you discussed the fact that business today isn’t solely focused on creating the best product. It’s all about the experience as well.

  2. Scott Crandall on April 30, 2013 at 11:02 am

    “The employees walk the leader’s talk.” That is both a brilliant insight, and brilliantly put. Wonderful blog.

  3. ramakrishnan6002 on November 7, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.