You May Have Customer Service Issues Rooted in Your Accounting Practices
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You May Have Customer Service Issues Rooted in Your Accounting Practices

You May Have Customer Service Issues Rooted in Your Accounting Practices

So many organizations struggle to train their teams in customer service, and then conversely, struggle to provide a consistent experience to their customers. Why is this? In theory, providing quality training seems to make clear sense. Yet, in reality, most organizations have poor execution, or worse, don’t focus on customer experience at all and then wonder why they’re routinely having customer service issues.

Are You Expecting Excellent Results From Inadequate CX Training? 

In his Harvard Business Review article, Wharton School Professor Peter Cappelli explores this phenomenon. In “How Financial Accounting Screws UP HR” Cappelli outlines how it is common for organizations to provide employees with such little customer experience training – even though it’s well known that it improves performance. In fact, many would often take less money in exchange for the training.

Cappelli points out one major reason organizations get stuck in a lack of training trap is the way financial accounting looks at employment costs. Despite all the evidence we have on the importance of “investing in our people” and a focus on training and development, the bottom line is that accounting professionals do not see employees as investments. Rather, they see them as an expense–a fixed cost, just like carpeting in an office. When business owners and their accountants view employees as being a fixed cost, rather than an investment that will continue to generate returns, consumers pay the price.

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

– Harvey S. Firestone

For an Improved Bottom Line, Shift the Focus to Your People

In his 2021 book Winning on Purpose, New York Times best-selling author Fred Reichheld makes the case for companies employing what he calls “Customer-Based Accounting”. Reichheld discusses how current accounting methods make it difficult for organizations that want to focus on customer experience as a strategy by having to focus instead on quarterly distractions that he refers to as “side-shows” when it comes to quarterly numbers. Reichheld argues that a more long-term approach with focus on training and development just makes better companies. The issue is navigating the short-term quarterly pressures that can get in the way.

The Competitive Advantages Of CX Training and Professional Development

If you’ve been thinking of refocusing on training and professional development for your organization, now might be the perfect time. In a June 2023 article from the MIT Sloan Management Review titled “Empower Your Team, Empower Yourself” authors Russell Clayton, Andrew Artis, and Dejun Tony Kong discuss the importance of a professional development focus and the highest level of training to prospective and current employees in today’s work environment. The authors make the case that organizations need to focus on learning and development (L&D) and training as an investment because it provides an organization with a competitive advantage. And ultimately, enhanced organizational performance leads to stronger client relationships.

There are other benefits as well. The authors remind us that employees are human and have an inherent need to be competent in their roles. The authors also cite research from Gallup that suggests L&D and training are top factors in retaining employees, especially Millennials.

Playing the Long Game for Employee and Organizational Success

Most employees appreciate having room to grow in their work lives and knowing how they can make the most positive impact. And all employers appreciate having employees who stick around! Employee retention tends to contribute to a more consistent customer experience, and if it’s a great experience, a business will enjoy both longer customer life and stronger financial statements.

World-class customer experiences begin with shifting the focus to what your people need to become loyal employees who can offer the best to your customers. At every point throughout their time with your company–from interview to orientation to all subsequent stages of their career–they need to be educated about the professional development opportunities available to them. They need you to define how they can be a rockstar in your organization and what you’ve built into the employee experience to help them achieve their goals. The most positive relationships develop when employees feel their employers truly care about them. Appreciation is an internal factor that needs to be built into your company’s culture.

It’s worth noting that in today’s hyper-competitive world, potential and even current employees are aware they have options. Quality of service is always affected when employees are treated like easily replaceable commodities. They no longer hesitate to jump ship. And if the best talent doesn’t see a robust L&D program built into your business practices, they won’t climb aboard to begin with.

So if you feel your company’s customer service is struggling, instead of starting with the CX team or the HR office, maybe start by having a conversation with the accounting department!

Take care of your people and your bottom line will take care of itself.

Dave Murray is the Senior Customer Experience Consultant for The DiJulius Group and has helped dozens of companies create incredible systems that allow them to consistently deliver superior customer service. Dave’s experience has varied from leading call centers and front-line team members, to working closely with key partners and stakeholders.

Published: July 5th, 2023

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