Of course it is! At least that's the answer you'll get if you ask a C-level company officer. If you ask those closer to the delivery of customer service they're likely to say, "...not so much." That, at any rate, is the basic message of a survey commissioned by customer service management and software provider Genesys (Daly City, Calif.) study and conducted by Equation Research entitled "The Executive Disconnect: The Strategic Alignment of Customer Service."Polling executives and customer service professionals in 927 companies in 47 countries, the survey found that while C-level execs and front line customer service people agree about the importance of service to the brand, their opinions diverge notably as one moves into the details that contrast objectives and actual achievements.
To provide a characteristic example, 41 percent of C-level execs believe their companies measure the experience of self-service by quality rather than cost savings while only 35 percent of customer service professionals do. It's not a huge difference, but its significance is magnified by certain considerations: first, the question should be empirically verifiable: what counts for a quality metric and what counts for an efficiency metric should be identifiable. Second, the rosier picture is held by the person closer to theory than practice. Finally, that pattern of bias is consistently visible across several questions.
If customer service is indeed important for the success of a brand - and this must be the case to some extent, for most brands - then the survey is valuable for its revelation of the disjunction between belief and reality when it comes to how companies are fulfilling their service commitments. The survey is also valuable as a reminder that all projects that filter down from visionary heights to the front lines are likely to look somewhat different depending on which end of the continuum one has as a vantage point.
There will be distortion that ensues from the Platonic nature of vision in contrast to execution, and there will be distortion caused by a lack of feedback from back to front that enables correction both of plans and interpretations of their effects.While C-level execs and front line customer service people agree about the importance of service to the brand, their opinions diverge notably as one moves into the details that contrast objectives and practices.
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio