The Wall Street Journal, in its April 19th edition, reports that “Retailers Try on New Sales Tactics”.  The new tactic?  Companies like JC Penney, Macy’s, and Home Depot plan to focus on customer service.  (Gasp.)  My guess, this new strategy could be downright revolutionary.

For starters, this ought not to be called news.  But since the WSJ found it noteworthy, let’s identify a couple of salient points.

  1. Customer service is the best way to drive top line growth – JC Penney
  2. Assisting customers assists the company – Home Depot is training cashiers to ask if customers have found what they sought

It shouldn’t surprise us that customer service helps companies grow.  What is important in the article is that customer service must be a constant focus, not a one-time program.  To achieve meaningful and lasting results, you and your employees must develop customer service muscle memory so that the first question we ask is “how can we help our customers get value?”  Companies like these may get short term results by reinvigorating their focus on service.  Mr. Spahr, at Home Depot gets it right when he indicates that strong relationships draw customers back into their stores.

The pivot point is that customer service is not a program, per se, but a culture, a way of doing business, and a commitment to social responsibility.  Cultures must be nurtured lest they gain an unintended life of their own.

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  • satya

    creating or changing an organization culture will take years. There need to be a trigger to change and often that could be accomplished thru a program.

    • @satya, you’re correct. Changing cultures can’t happen overnight because it seeks to fundamentally change the belief systems (about work anyway), behaviors, and values of the company. These accumulate over years and become part of the company. When new employees join a company they are expected to embrace and share such cultures.

      Later, when a company decides a change is needed, the journey is lengthy and fraught with mis-steps.

      The program you mention is precisely what will be needed. Also needed are tangible examples by leadership to reward the new expected behavior and [unfortunately] to punish unacceptable behavior.

      Thanks for your comment!

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