How Educating Your Employees Leads to Happy Customers
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Customer experience should be at the center of any business, regardless of industry. Unfortunately, in my experience this typically is not the case . Frustrations in my regular dealings with salespeople, be it enterprise or retail, have led me to write this series addressing the problems that exist within today’s customer experience.
In my previous post, I explored why today’s customer experience is just not cutting it, and the implications this has for businesses. Today I will be looking at one major contributor to poor customer service and some potential solutions.
The Problem: Improper distribution of employee information.
Picture this: You have a basic question but the employee you are interacting with has no idea how to answer it. They must put your transaction on hold to go “ask a manager”. This is frustrating to all involved: Customers don’t have time to wait for answers. Employees don’t enjoy feeling unhelpful and uninformed. Managers have bigger problems to deal with.
Interactions like this can seriously tarnish the reputation of your entire business and hurt your bottom line.
Let’s start with the facts: Knowledgeable employees are a huge part of providing seamless customer experiences. According to American Express Customer Barometer 2017 survey, 62% of respondents report that representatives’ knowledge and resourcefulness is key to a positive experience.
With that said, it is completely acceptable (and, frankly, expected) for an employee to require managerial direction during their first few months. In fact, in the Gen Z Report Accenture 2017 97% of 2017 graduate participants reported that they will need on-the-job training to further their careers.
These first few months are crucial for providing your employees with the information they need to succeed. BUT, do not mistake necessary training and induction with routine babysitting. If after a few months, your employees are still struggling to work independently – it signals either a problem with onboarding OR a problem with that particular employee. If this is happening with multiple employees, the problem is your training program.
Employees are on the front lines. They are the face of your business and, whether you like it or not, their abilities reflect directly onto your company. If you have a high number of employees who are unable to answer simple questions without the interception of a manager then you have a problem. Before blaming your employees, I beg you to ask yourself this: Are you, or your company, providing them with the tools they need to succeed? Are they receiving proper training? Are managers acting as mentors and properly distributing knowledge?
Solution: Optimize your training program
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Your training program has the potential to set an employee up for success, or doom them to inefficiency. The first step towards a successful training program is determining the overall purpose- what specific skills or knowledge do you need your employees to walk away with? Next, it is necessary to find the most effective way to deliver this information.
Input from your current employees is extremely valuable: Ask them what they wish they could learn. What part of your training program did they benefit from the most? The least? What you perceive vs what your employees think may be different. Insights into your employees’ experience will help you create a program that actually addresses what they need to know.
The way you train makes a difference as well. Understanding the way adults learn will help you create a training program that resonates. Malcolm S. Knowles is an American social psychologist who has developed several theories centered around adult learning and communication. The following of Knowles’ principles of adult learning are particularly relevant for developing effective training programs:
Adults need to be involved in the planning and execution of their learning
Adults learn through experiences
Adults must be able to see the value of what they are learning and how it applies to their life/work
Adults learn better with task-related problem-solving
Incorporating these principles into your teaching will result in a memorable training program and employees that are better trained, more knowledgeable, and independent.
Lastly, it is crucial to that your training programs are constantly evolving and improving according to your employees’ needs. Regularly assessing your training program for areas of improvement is a must.
Solution: Create a culture based on knowledge-sharing
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I believe it is critical for companies to create a culture of knowledge where employees, managers, executives, WHOEVER, are constantly learning and teaching. Knowledge hoarding will hurt your company.
Start by treating each and every mistake as a learning opportunity. It’s completely acceptable for your employees to not have all the answers. What’s more important is that they are learning and growing after each interaction. Reprimanding them for something they have not been adequately prepared for is counterproductive. Teach don’t Preach.
I cannot stress the importance of ensuring that all resources and tools your employees need to grow be readily available to them. Obviously, this means different things for different businesses- One way to find out what it means for yours? Ask your employees!
A great way to encourage a culture of constant learning is to start hosting monthly lunch and learns with your team. During these sessions, employees can learn from industry experts or each others’ experiences. Hosting these sessions significantly boosts employee motivation and drive to learn.
A company culture which promotes learning and growth helps everyone. It boosts employee confidence, ability, and motivation ultimately resulting in a better experience for your customers. The result? Happy customers, happy employees, and an increased bottom line.
Now that we’ve tackled the issue of improper information distribution, next week I will explore the problem of fully-capable employees being held back due to lack of decision-making power. See you then!