One of the big problems in the world of Customer Service today is that too many companies do not trust their employees to take care of the customers. Since the employees are the ones who deal with the customers, not empowering them is the customer service “kiss of death”.

Mary Kay Ash, when asked why her cosmetics business had been so phenomenally successful, answered, “I try to hire really nice people and I try to let them be as nice as they can be.” Sounds simple but it isn’t. Companies must first start with HIRING. And it’s hard to find “really nice”, competent people. But it’s worth the effort for companies like Mary Kay’s.

Another great Culture of Service is on display at Nordstrom’s. Too many companies specifically and too many industries generally (Google Customer Service Hall of Shame) have too many rules. Nordstrom V.P. James Nordstrom had this to say: “Rules give employees another reason to say ‘no’ to a customer. That’s why we hate rules!” In the book THE NORDSTROM WAY, I was able to find one rule: “Use good judgment in all situations!” Seems like one dandy rule to me!

Here in Indianapolis and in several other mid western cities, Mike’s Car Wash sets a terrific Customer Service standard. I’ve never pulled into Mike’s, no matter how hot or cold it was, when the employees weren’t very friendly and professional. I know Mike’s President Bill Dahm personally and I know his commitment to hiring the best, training them best and finally EMPOWERING them is second to none.

Being able to empower employees means a company has to make a huge commitment in time, money and resources to hiring, training and empowering. And the commitment must be ONGOING. You must constantly remind even the most senior employees that Customer Service must be JOB ONE. It’s not easy. You can’t empower without paying attention to these basics. “Hats off” to the minority that do. “Brickbats” to the majority who don’t!