Tom Peters has a fascinating little post on his blog about the Big Red Button of Customer Service at Commerce Bank. Here's his description:
When you (teller) run into a self (bank)-created roadblock to serving the customer, you push the red button. The impediment you discover will be addressed—and if action is taken, and it usually is, you'll get a financial reward for discovering Grunge that had gotten between the customer and an excellent service experience . . .
My point-suggestion here is that you invent your flavor of Red Buttons for your 3-person department, your 9-person temporary project team, your 17-table restaurant, or your 235-person division. That is, formal tools for identifying Grunge and removing it and getting Everyone in on the GGG—Great Grunge [Removal] Game.
What a GREAT concept. Client service basically comes down to two things -- people and processes. If you people (or you) don't care about client service, then one discussion needs to be had. If your processes get in the way -- you send out bills in a format the client doesn't like, calls don't get returned, people get lost in voicemail, whatever -- and there's a systemic cause, that's a different conversation. And if you create a system where you:
1) Care about identifying problems
2) Reward people for pointing them out
3) Fix them
Example: Yesterday I was in a two-hour meeting at BDO Seidman with a couple of investment bankers. I was there with a client, and at the beginning of the meeting, I got a cup of coffee. But it was absolutely impossible to find the cream. Their kitchen had this impressive array of every conceivable kind of beverage, snack, condiment, and implement imaginable, but nobody -- and eventually, this included me and two bankers -- could find the cream. And I guarantee that nothing will be done about it. It was annoying, it's over, let's move on. But what if there was a PROCESS for identifying and fixing this issue? Then the day-to-day client service issues that grind away at the relationship between your firm and your clients would actually be addressed.