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  • Writer's pictureAcumen Learning

Your Service Sucks and You Don't Know Why

Articles & Insights

customer service

There is no question that good customer service is vital to any healthy company. Just as important, if not more, is the service given between colleagues and departments (or internal customers) within the organization. In fact, how employees treat each other is highly reflective of the way they treat their customers. Stephen R. Covey once said, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”

At Acumen Learning, we have the opportunity to work with thousands of employees from some of the greatest companies in the world – companies such as GE, Coca-Cola, Verizon and Cisco. During each course we teach, we ask these two simple questions:

  • Question 1: On a scale from 1–5, how would you rate the service you receive from your colleagues?

  • Question 2: On a scale from 1–5, how would you rate the service you give your colleagues?


To date, we have surveyed more than 30,000 people from both companies large and small, and what we have found is fascinating. Every single person has responded that they give significantly better service than they receive! While it’s possible that we’ve just happened to survey the 30,000 employees who give exceptional service – we highly doubt that’s the case. What we’ve found is this:

People tend to judge themselves by their intentions, and others by their actions.

In other words, there is a gap between the grade of service people think they give and the grade of service they actually give. And this gap isn’t just found with the service given to internal customers (colleagues), but with the service given to external customers as well.

So how do you bridge the service gap? Well, the single most impactful thing you can do is to improve your communication skills. Most people could spend their entire lives trying improve their ability to communicate, so don’t think that I am going to cover the entirety of the subject here. However, I do have a couple of simple tips that, if implemented, will make a big difference.


Before you start talking about what you think your customers (whether internal or external) want, try asking questions and really listen to what they need. No matter how hard you work, if your understanding of their needs is off, you will never have satisfied customers.


It’s easy to think that everyone knows what you know, but they don’t. Your actions just aren’t as clear as you think they are, so make it a goal to communicate more information more frequently.

When is the last time you asked a colleague or customer how satisfied they are with your service and for suggestions on how to improve? Asking this question on a regular basis will do wonders for your relationship with your internal and external customers.

In the end, a good rule of thumb is that if you think you communicate enough, you probably need to double it.


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