What do you mean customer service? I work in a finance department…..

IMG_2633Nothing stays in the memory quite like a particularly good, or particularly bad, customer service experience. We can all think of examples of when someone exceeded our expectations, or didn’t call back when they said they would. These good, or bad, experiences can often stay with us for a lifetime.

Who’s your customer?

As finance professionals, what we may sometimes not be so good at doing is viewing everyone that we provide information or services to in a work environment, both internally and externally, as customers. Consequently there is a temptation not to adopt a customer service mindset. Naturally this can sometimes have a lasting effect on how we are perceived by those we work with on a daily basis. It can also have a negative impact on career progression and result in an unproductive working environment where helpfulness is not reciprocated.

In the world of finance, customer service can mean many things, including; always having a positive attitude, working efficiently, making ourselves experts in the services/information that we provide and being willing to solve problems. Obviously there is a balance here. As finance professionals we often try and work miracles, and are sometimes expected to have a magic wand on loan from Harry Potter. However not every request for information is reasonable and not every deadline is achievable! Prioritisation will always remain a key skill in all areas of the working world.

Set expectations

Good customer service does not (always!) mean working until the early hours in order to meet every deadline. What it does mean is that we should understand and recognise who our customers are and the importance of those customers. We then need to agree reasonable terms of reference with each of them at the outset. As soon as it becomes obvious that a deadline cannot be met then there needs to be effective communication with the ‘customer’ in order to agree what alternatives are acceptable and achievable. If this is done effectively far enough in advance, and with good reasons, then this too can be seen as great customer service and ensure that finance stays in customers’ memories for all the right reasons.

P.S If you recognise the picture we would like to point out that we have always received EXCELLENT customer service here 🙂