Alignment, Inclusion and High Performance at Costco.com

One of the great keys to alignment is knowing how your work and the work of others fit together in the bigger picture to drive the organization in a common direction. Its not enough just to know your own goals, but know the goals of the teams and workgroups around you. I rarely find that in organizations, and I have traveled all over the world looking into organizations and their inner workings. Involving the customer in this process is even more rare. And doing all of that in a customer service function is, well, statistically impossible. Unless you are Costco.com.

I just got off the phone with Tanya in customer service at Costco.com. It’s refreshing to have a person answer the phone in the first place, and I appreciate the way she took the time to find out what needed to be done to resolve my issue. But what happened next is what floored me.

After she explained the process, she told me what team would be handling and tracking this issue, and then said, “Their goal is to make first contact back with you within 1-2 business days, confirm your information, then check in daily with you until the issue is resolved.”

In essence, what Tanya did was tell me who would be working on my issue, what their goal is that they would measure initial success by, and then set my expectations further by letting me know how they would work with me and what my participation in the process was. She was essentially showing me an aerial view of everything that would be happening, when it would happen and what I could expect from it.

And that is not just her being considerate; it’s part of her process, come to find out. After I quizzed her about why she said what she said, what her aim was and how it all worked, Tanya indicated something to the effect that Costco.com has set it up so that each CSR like Tanya is able to quickly find out what needs to be done to resolve customer issues, then set the process in motion and orient the customer to the team that will handle issue resolution for them. In my case, its a multi-day, bit of a complex solution, so it takes a little more care. But what impressed me was the sense of a group of people, unified and aligned to a common purpose, and aligning me to the same purpose, making me an adjunct of the team. How could I not buy in to that process?!

There is a great lesson in high performance there. There is a culture at work that is bigger than process, and it’s driving high performance. That is the bigger post that I wish I could write. And who are the leaders behind it all?  I’d be everyone on the team is a leader.

NPS: 10. Customer Effort: Very little.

Great work.

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