Customer-Focused Iron Triangle


Back in the day, when I initially entered into military service, I was trained as a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.  Although I did not see frontline combat, I do find myself these days on the frontlines of customer service. 

Similar to the “Iron Triangle” that Morris Fiorina uses to describe Congress, the Executive Branch and Bureaucracy, customer care professionals use their role as relationship builder, competent communicator and service specialist to break through the barriers of customer complaints and expectations.  By better understanding the complexities of the customer service triangle between the frontline representative, the customer and the company, we can help to ensure a customer-focused Iron Triangle.

When I think of companies that provide premier customer service, I immediately think of my experiences with USAA, American Express and FedEx.  These Fortune 500 companies have excelled at providing unparalleled customer care.  Their uncanny ability to build upon the customer relationship is measured by their substantial hierarchy within the marketplace. 

But, how can smaller companies with smaller budgets guard the critical border of customer and company? 

The first step is to list the attitudes and behavior you seek in your new hire.  Likely, you are seeking people that possess the required traits to be successful on the frontlines.  For me, the attributes that make someone successful at customer service are that they are educated, articulate, patient, sincere, trustworthy, detailed oriented, organized, proactive, confident and dependable.

In addition to being lucky or blessed in hiring people who possess these positive characteristics, you must ensure, you properly vet those that will be charged with “loving on your customers.”  During the interview process, ask your prospective customer service professional what they believe is important in building relationships with customers.  Have the candidate complete a brief behavioral questionnaire that helps you gauge their responses, while being able to confirm they fit into the formula that you prescribe for your customer service department.

Nothing beats a solid investment in training, however, for your customer focused team.  For example, Avatel Technologies utilizes the experts at Sandler Training.  This investment is helping us to learn from an incremental reinforced training and coaching series that is facilitated on-site each month.  As customers have ever increasing choices in the marketplace, it’s the little touches that win hearts and minds. 

With Sandler instruction, the Project Management team is learning new technical skills and productive behavior that will help us continue to keep our customer-focused culture.

As a soldier now serving within the forward area of customer service, I am taking the lessons learned from Sandler training along with my philosophy of “loving on our Avatel customers” to proudly carry my weapon of choice – a customer-focused iron triangle.

Lonnie Ledford, Project Manager – Avatel Guest Blogger


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