If you haven’t taken a moment recently to look around Greater Cleveland’s business community, it’s time you do so. You’ll have to experience the pride you feel. After having the privilege to sit on the panel of judges for this year’s Smart Business World Class Customer Service Awards, I am reminded that we are surrounded by innovators, strategists, pioneers and true “bar-setters” of what will soon become world-class standards in customer service.
Unlike when you might see a bright neon sign on the front of an establishment flashing “World’s Best Cup of Coffee” or “World’s Best Corned Beef Sandwich,” “world-class” is a difference that is obvious once you get a taste of this year’s World Class Customer Service Award winners. The term is not something that is displayed on a neon sign — “world-class” emerges as a result of passion and the unwavering, tenacious commitment to a company’s vision and purpose.
Regardless of the industry, the winners that were selected all had one common strand of DNA in the makeup of their company philosophy. That common strand is the ability to convey the beliefs and purpose that are at the core of their company’s mission to every associate within the organization. From the newly hired part-time cashier all the way to the longest-tenured top-level executive, there are no associates who don’t have crystal clarity on their purpose followed up with the accountability to deliver on those expectations.
In addition to communicating and delivering on core principles, I also learned from all our winners that you must deliver an incredible amount of TLC — not the TLC that your grandmother was an expert in delivering; this TLC comprises training, listening and customer care.
Consistent, oftentimes daily, training is the foundation for associates who are expected to produce repeat customers and profitability. A competent associate today, without consistent training, will most likely not be a competent associate tomorrow. Change occurs rapidly, and unless we are committed to this concept we will undoubtedly be surpassed by someone who is.
This group of award winners has also been able to react to trends and see opportunities, sometimes before they even exist, through the often lost art of listening. They listen not only to customers but also to associates who are on the front lines and are faced with constantly changing demands of customer service. Unless the customer and the associates are heard, misguided decisions are often made.
And lastly (only because it helps with the cleverness of the acronym!), Customer Care. Both internal and external customer care must be a priority. The winners showed remarkable consistency in both the constant recognition of a job well done within the organization, and a genuine appreciation of the customers their companies were designed to serve.
Congratulations to all of the World Class companies that are being recognized. We are truly surrounded by the Best of the Best!
John Spearry is the general manager of Metro Lexus. Reach him at John_Spearry@metrolexus or visit www.metrolexus.com.