When dealing with customers, many companies look at customer service as an outside set of tasks. A customer walks in, or calls from outside the organization, and an employee handles the customers transaction. With this view point of customer service, the outcome of the interaction with the customer is based on the interaction between the customer and the employee alone. This however, is overlooking an important aspect of customer service within an organization.

Customer service does not start from outside the organization, but rather from within. The way an employee is treated by upper management, as well as other fellow employees, determines a great deal in the way they treat a companies customers. If an organization trains properly, and creates a culture of “Inside/Out” customer service, the way in which employees are treated will directly reflect the way in which customers are treated.  In the scenario below, we will take a look at the impact an “Outside/In” culture versus an “Inside/Out” culture has on customer service within an organization.

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Scenario with an “Outside/In” culture:

What began as a typical morning for Rose, turned south quickly, as her babysitter was late to the house, causing Rose to get a late start to work. To make the morning even more difficult, Rose nearly ran out of gas, and had to stop to fill up on the way in, causing her to drive over the speed limit to try to make up for lost time. Within five miles of work, Rose got pulled over by a police officer, really making her morning unbearable. As Rose pulled into work, now 45 minutes late, she met her boss at the front door, and quickly tried to explain, but her boss appeared to have no empathy. This caused Rose to become more frustrated, and even more angry than she already was. As she walked toward her desk, Rose felt anxious, angry, frustrated, and unappreciated. While taking customer service calls, her mood was highly transparent during every phone conversation with customers throughout the day, causing customers to have a horrible experience, and a very low approval rate of the customer service she provided.

Scenario with an “Inside/Out” culture:

If we take the same scenario as the one I just described, but make some slight, but very effective changes, the entire scenario could have a much better outcome for Rose, as well as the organizations customers. Considering we can’t change the fact the the baby sitter was late, Rose almost ran out of gas, and Rose got pulled over by the police, what could have changed in the scenario to produce a more positive outcome?

We can start with the interaction that Rose had with her boss.  As Rose pulled into work, now 45 minutes late, she met her boss at the front door, and quickly tried to explain. As her boss listened to her entire story, he gathered all of the facts, and felt that Rose was being truthful about her morning. Her boss then asked Rose to take a seat and calm down for a few minutes before taking any customer service calls. He then temporarily assigned service calls to another agent that was happy to help, until Rose could regain her composure. Once Rose began to feel the stress of her morning ease up a bit, she walked toward her desk, feeling a little less anxious,  angry, and frustrated, as well as very much appreciated by her boss. She also felt thankful for her coworker, who helped out while she calmed down. This change in scenario has presented a much better chance of Rose creating a positive customer experience, and a higher satisfaction rate from her customers.