Service Excellence – A matter of Equality AND Inequality

While George Orwell’s 1945 book Animal Farm was intended to be an allegorical critique of Stalinism, one of the commandments which evolves during the book’s journey has always intrigued me from the perspective of client service and customer experience.

That commandment reads as follows:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

In my twisted brain, this “commandment” is both accidentally and poorly applied in the world of customer service.

For example, I have consulted with organizations where leaders had indicated that everyone is “equal” when it comes to playing a role in customer service but also where the organization had failed to provide service training to non-customer facing staff.  In essence, these staff are told they are customer service providers but they are not helped to see how their efforts travel out to the benefit of paying clients.

On the reverse side, have you ever been served by a person who you thought “should have never been placed in a customer facing role.”  In these scenarios, the Animal Farm commandment is violated because selection of customer facing staff treats all people as equal when it comes to service talent.  In essence, the commandment in these organizations is that “everyone has equal talent and none is more equal than anyone else when it comes to interacting with the customer!”

So what does this mean to you and how might we craft the best service variant to the Animal Farm commandment.  Well here is my effort to adapt the commandment to apply to customer service settings.  My commandment reads as follows:

“Everyone is equal in serving customers (and should be trained to maximize their impact from wherever they are located in your organization). Additionally, existing differences in service skill should guide how staff members are deployed.”

Under my revised (and significantly longer version) of Orwell’s commandment, how would you rate your company’s ability to address equality as it relates to service effort and inequality as it relates to tactical selection and placement of your customer facing service professionals?

I believe if you effectively maximize real equalities and inequalities in service impact and skill, you can take your business from ordinary to excellent.

What do you think?

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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