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The Secret Sauce

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As a frequent traveler, I serve big and small companies in both rural and metropolitan regions. That’s what makes my job so much fun. There’s much variety and diversification in the work I do. 

Amidst the assortment of clients I work with, there remains one consistent factor: the good companies want to get better. Over the last 15 years, I have only been hired by the best companies.  

When I enter a new client’s facility for the first time, their optimism and effectiveness is unmistakable. “There’s something special going on here,” I usually think to myself. And yes, there is something special occurring there. 

It’s the secret sauce. 

I have found very few business models possess anything special in terms of products and services.  

The Secret Sauce, in my opinion, is the person at the helm. This is usually a company owner who has learned from both successes and failures. These past experiences can result in the secret sauce’s blend of humility and self-confidence. 

It is through this person that employees achieve outstanding synergy.  

What is synergy? It is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.  

A company owner with the secret sauce builds a strong team, leads by example, and establishes a culture of excellence. This culture is usually built upon four customer service principles: 

  1. Communicate well with employees to clearly convey purpose and goals. Numerous changes in engineering designs, compatibility, and manufacturing schedules must be quickly circulated to those who serve customers. Facts matter. This helps to minimize the half-truth phenomena in which someone always gets the wrong half.  
  2. Strictly enforce a rule of fast follow-up with customers, regarding scheduling and parts delivery so that customers know what you are doing for them. Maintaining persistent customer follow-up is a proactive success strategy. If customers are uncertain as to what is going on, they’ll phone you and ask. When this happens, your employees can become reactive and defensive, thus minimizing their ability to control the event. Regarding follow up, there are two main positions: offense and defense. When customers phone you, they’re on the offense, and when you phone the customer, you’re on the offense. 
  3. Maximize the latent technological and human assets in your customer service department. This enables employees to serve customers in a fast, accurate, and efficient manner. It is inefficient to use only a small percentage of your company’s desktop or tablet applications. Therefore, invest time in advanced training to maximize employee efficiency and productivity. The cost of training is always less than the cost of ignorance. Make the investment to educate employees.  
  4. Enable and empower employees to quickly resolve tricky situations with a stable problem-solving infrastructure. The best managers understand the two primary reasons as to why customers call for service: customers either have a problem, or a question. Therefore, instilling a customer-centric attitude among employees helps to keep the focus on where it belongs. Front line service employees should be part of a weekly role-playing session during which common questions and problems can be rehearsed and perfected.  

These four principles, while not exhaustive, are key secret sauce ingredients. Achieving a world-class service level does not have to be complicated and expensive. In fact, it’s much more affordable than you think.

Steve Coscia, CSP

Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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