How many companies do you know that have merged with other businesses over the years? I recently heard a story about a British supermarket business that is formed of people who used to work for two different organisations up until about eight years ago, when one company took the other one over. Eight years later, there is still a ‘rift’ between the people based on which company they originally worked for.

I once worked for a company that had taken over another, much larger, company, several years before I joined. People still referred to themselves as ‘belonging’ to one of the companies or the other after five years.

Contrast that with what happened when the business I worked for stopped being British Rail and started being GNER back in the 1990’s. Within a few weeks, things started changing. There were road shows that anyone could attend, where our new CEO personally welcomed everyone to the new company and set out the plans for the next few years. There were positive changes to look forward to and there would be more trains, more jobs and more career progression opportunities. He also listened to our questions and concerns and gave us honest answers. For the first time in my working life, I was excited about the future. I knew what I was working towards. A few months later I was offered the opportunity to go into training and development, and I have never really looked back.

So many companies concentrate on the branding, the public image of the company, perhaps paint all the stores in new colours and give their front line people new uniforms and their managers new job titles and responsibilities, but they don’t communicate with the people and get them on board. They make sure all the I.T. systems are functioning but they leave their people in a state of disarray.

Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the customer experience. People who don’t know what they are doing or where they’re going tend not to be motivated, and that affects their behaviour. That in turn has a negative impact on customer service.

So, the next time you have you have a negative customer experience, don’t just blame the person who dealt with you, dig a little deeper. Is that person motivated? Do they feel part of something? Are they recognised when they do something great? Are they spoken to when they make a mistake and given help and support to improve?

Customer Service really is all about people, and it starts inside a company.