Leadership in the Battle of Customer Service

BobI’ve been making my way through the amazing HBO mini-series Band of Brothers again. It tells the true story of one of America’s finest group of soldiers as they lived and fought their way through World War II. I think It’s one of the greatest shows that television has ever produced. And it’s got me thinking a lot about leadership.

The mini-series clearly shows two types of leaders. The Easy Company had leaders who trained with them, fought along side them, and literally led the way when the bullets started flying. Then were those, who the Army sent in to lead, who stayed back, covered their heads and ran for cover while cheering the men onward to the battle.

Good leaders lead by example. Whether you have a business with a small team who handles the phones or a large, industrial call center – the principle doesn’t change. I’ve watched CSRs who will do almost anything for their supervisor or manager because they know that person is willing to get into the trenches with them, if need be, to get the job done. Two examples:

  • One of our clients has a front-line manager who, despite an incredible pile of work, manages to take back-up calls and escalated calls from the floor. When we started our SQA program, she wanted to be monitored and scored like everyone else. In twelve year of doing QA for many different individuals and companies, she is the only person I’ve ever know to have an average QA score of 100 for an entire quarter. When it comes time for call coaching, her team knows they really can’t complain or sand bag – because their manager leads by example. If she can do it – they can do it.
  • One client we’ve worked with has a goal of answering every call when it comes in. When calls start to back up in queue, an alarm sounds. When that happens, everyone is expected to get on the phones. It’s rather comical to watch as supervisors and managers rush like volunteer firemen to jack-in and handle the "fire". What a message to the front-line CSRs. Not only the message that each customer calling in is important to everyone in the company – but also that when the customer service battle starts to heat up – the management team has their back.

What will you and I do to lead by example today? Do you have a great example of leadership – positive or negative – from your own experience? Post a comment and share!

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Flickr photo courtesy of Lincoln Six Echo

  3 comments for “Leadership in the Battle of Customer Service

  1. June 24, 2006 at 9:40 am

    I love this concept Tom – here’s an example from my world: I started out as a CPA in my past life, so when my analysts get swamped I sometimes step right up to my Excel spreadsheet and start cranking out numbers right beside them. You are so right – this “rolling up the sleeves” is very effective. (PS: I loved Band Of Brothers too; when I think of those brave men it always puts things in the proper perspective.)

  2. June 24, 2006 at 11:10 am

    I know what you mean about B.o.B – it’s humbling. I think about those men and what they did so we could enjoy our freedom and prosperity. When you think about being a “man” – those guys define it.

  3. June 25, 2006 at 10:36 pm

    An Example Of Leadership In Customer Service

    Tom Vander Well asks us if we can think of a great example of leadership and yes, I do have many examples that I can share… But one in particular stands out in my mind. Her name is Alicia Castruita…

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