In the early hours of 28th April 1789, the Royal Navy vessel HMS Bounty was overrun by disaffected crewmen. Captain Bligh and his loyal followers were cast adrift in a small boat in the South Pacific. They would need to sail 3,500 perilous miles, over mountainous waves and stormy seas, in an overcrowded, undersupplied craft, to reach the Dutch settlement of Coupang in Timor.
“What exactly does this have to do with customer service?” you may ask. The answer: everything!
What is Customer Service?
But let’s begin by taking a step back and ask ourselves – What is Customer Service?
Customer Service is an important weapon in any organisation’s arsenal – in fact, it’s the primary weapon for as many as 90% of all organisations who already compete almost exclusively on the basis of customer service.
Customer Service means treating customers politely and professionally; with respect and courtesy; crafting an individual and unique experience for them.
But this is not blind, good-natured, altruism; there’s a motive. Customers are provided with a unique experience in order to better sell your organisation’s products, provide its services, and ultimately, achieve your organisation’s objectives and business goals.
And this is proven to work, most customers are willing to spend a bit more money in exchange for a great customer experience. They’re also much more likely to buy your organisation’s products and use its services again in the future; keeping a customer loyal is much more cost effective than attracting new ones. Ultimately, it pays to give customers a great experience.
Now, getting your organisation’s products and service to the customer is the ultimate goal but there’s an entire journey which takes place before then. Whether designing, manufacturing, delivering, testing, or in any way, supporting the sale or provision of products and services, each and every person along the way is as crucial to you and your organisation achieving its aims as the customer.
The people who help support the delivery of products and services to your organisation’s customers – whether internal or external, whether delivery drivers, IT support staff, member of HR/ payroll, maintenance teams and cleaners or anything in between – should all be treated with the same respect and courtesy as customers.
They’re all important links in a continuous chain from source to customer, and if the relationship breaks down within any of those links then the customer suffers and you, and your organisation will fail to achieve your goals.
Going back to HMS Bounty...
For 5 months, the HMS Bounty had been docked in Tahiti, its goal to transport breadfruit plants back to England – a goal it would never achieve. The ship loaded to the brim, it departed on the long, arduous voyage home. The work was hard and living was tough, especially compared to the comparatively easy 5 months they’d spent in Tahiti, so spirits were at an all-time low.
The captain, unable or unwilling to gauge the tone of his crew, himself grew more intolerant and prone to fits of rage which he took out on his crew; bearing the brunt of his foul moods was Master’s Mate Fletcher Christian.
On 27th April, the day before the mutiny, Christian, in a state of despair, was approached by other crewmen who had suffered at the hand of their irascible captain and gave him their support. A mutiny was now underway.
Each member of the crew aboard the HMS Bounty was a link in a chain stretching from England to Tahiti and back again. The captain’s poor treatment of his crew caused those links to break down, the ship never achieved its goals and the captain was left stranded, helpless, without the support of the crew he had treated so poorly.