Empowered Employees Are Better Equipped to Influence Customer Loyalty

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Between the financial markets and Hurricane Ike, it feels like everything I own is down, including: my 401K, cable service, internet service, tree limbs and house siding. OK, OK, you get the picture, and I know I’m not the only one dialing for help. Many service centers have probably never experienced call volumes this high. At least that’s the impression I get when I listen to the hold messages.

While working to bring my cable and internet back online the service rep noticed that I have not “bundled” my phone with them. When I considered the fact that my telephone was the one appliance that didn’t go down during the storm I wondered if she was really going to go for it. You know, try to cross-sell me despite the fact that my cable and internet had already been down for over a week. Although the cross-sell pitch was probably standard procedure she held back. And I congratulated her for doing so. The conversation went something like this:

Alan: As you were looking through my account records you wanted to encourage me to bundle my phone service?

Service Rep: Well … yes, I’m generally required to recommend it; however, given the situation it didn’t feel like the thing I should be focusing on right now.

Alan: Thanks for holding back. I know it’s your job to point out the “bundle savings opportunity,” but I appreciate the fact that you didn’t actually take time to propose it. The bundle option might be available – and it might even save me some money – but the timing of your offer would have been terrible.

It sounds like a small thing, but often it’s the small things that count the most. The bottom line is that my service rep felt empowered to go “off script” given the situation. Not all service centers are truly serious about creating a culture that allows for this type of freedom. The lesson learned for me is that when you move your front-line employees up the empowerment ladder you are more likely to move your customers up the loyalty ladder. At any rate, I’m back online now, so thanks Time Warner. I don’t think my 401K is going to be as fast or easy.

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