How can I help?

By Michael Thompson, treasurer, Generation Next
Reading Truck Group

This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of Generation Next Edition

My wife and I started watching the NBC drama “New Amsterdam” a few months ago. No, you’re not reading Entertainment Weekly and no, this isn’t some new type of column Generation Next has tricked NTEA into publishing. Rather, something struck me during the first episode that has had me thinking ever since – we indeed are all in customer service. And it started with four simple words from the series’ main character: “How can I help?”

That simple question (which, admittedly, elicited a complicated answer) really resonated with me. We’re all in customer service, no matter our position, no matter our station, no matter our department. Our responsibility is, ultimately, to the customer.

“But, Mike,” you interject. “I’m not customer-facing. How could I be in customer service?”

No, you may not be in the Customer Service Department, but this idea reaches far beyond the customer who purchases your company’s goods and extends to your coworkers and teammates, your supervisors and associates. See, we all have a product we sell – payroll services, IT support, marketing materials. And we sell these products every single day to internal customers.

As some of you reading this might remember, I came to the work truck industry after working for a strategic planning firm. The number-one weakness all of our clients had to deal with, no matter the business or the industry, was poor internal communication. I maintained then, as I do now, that poor internal communication is a symptom of a focus away from your customer.

Engineering isn’t communicating with Marketing? (And vice versa?)

Sales isn’t communicating with Finance? (And vice versa?)

The executive team isn’t communicating with the shop floor? (And vice versa?)

These are all symptoms of the same illness – not realizing we’re all in customer service, that our responsibility is to the customers we see every single day, our coworkers above, below, and next to us on the proverbial totem pole. I’ve seen it in businesses of every size in every industry in every part of the country. Ignore the symptoms at your own peril, for they will grow quietly and then manifest themselves with a vengeance.

How do we fight this? I’m often told I over-think solutions, so since it’s a new year I’ll resolve to keep things simple. We fight this illness by accepting our role as servants and living up to our responsibility to serve. Whether you’re the CEO or an hourly employee, you serve your coworkers by your attitude, your willingness to assist, and – most importantly – your desire to communicate.

So, yes, we’re all in Customer Service.

How can I help?