Tales from the Wendy House

Straight off the bat I’m going to say that the companies with great, dare I say good customer service will thrive. Are you mad I hear you say?

Well, here goes. In the 90’s and 00’s how we treated our customers was the differentiating factor. Companies were falling over themselves to give us loyalty schemes, training customer service staff to within an inch of their lives and producing stats on customer retention that even talked about how many smiley faces they had received.

Fast forward to 2023…

“Due to Covid-19 it will take us 7-9 working days to respond to your query” Phones not answered. Booking system on the website not working. Trip Advisor ratings down from 5 to 1. Reports of staff being disinterested, long wait times and half of the building out of action. This is factual, a public attraction and one that is charging significant amounts of money to enter. What went wrong?

Reports of “we’re understaffed”, “we keep losing people”, “people are off with Covid” are threaded through day to day customer experience. Can we blame this for bad customer service? Perhaps, but the situation is unlikely to change much. So, how do we change this?

Firstly, we do some research on what is the new norm. It’s not good setting standards that are unrealistic and no one can reach. We set ourselves up to fail. On the other side of the coin, we need to ensure that we are going to stand out (in a good way). Only when we have this realistic information can we set our targets.

Secondly, communicate this with our people first – not our customers. I’ve seen so many companies tell their customers of a great new service only to find that in reality, on the coal face, it won’t work.

Thirdly, have the right systems in place to monitor progress. Find the one that’s right for your business. One that’s simple, easy to use and one that our people like (see Secondly!).

Next – have a culture where people want to stay. How do we do this? We engage them, develop them and make them feel loved. Too fluffy a word? Not really, if you want people to love what they do you have to love them in the first place. This point is not easy and takes time, but it’s taken three years to get into this current situation, it’s not going to be fixed overnight. Remember replacing a person can cost up to £9k.

Finally (this list is not exhaustive) – tell your customer what to expect from you. Remember, the barrier to entry on good customer service is low in some sectors. If you are realistic, positive and have engaged people you will already be ahead.

This post isn’t meant to highlight that all customer service is broken. Far from it. We can all name the companies that have it just right, but for some it’s like the Emperors New Clothes….. Customer? What Customer?

If you need some help with your culture or indeed with some customer service training for your business, I can help you. Thank you for reading!

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