Have you noticed a downward spiral of customer service in America? Maybe it is just me but it seems that there is a clear reduction in the basic care provided by many companies – even whose foundations were built on high-touch customer service. From the “really not my job” attitude at my local Home Depot to the decisions by companies like United Airlines to refuse to empower their outsourced call center agents with the ability to make good decision – there is either a lack of focus from the executives or a dire need to improve the attitudes of the frontline.
If you are reading the blog at CustomerThink you probably already have a clear understanding that happy employees equal happy customers. But, what do employees need to know in order to be happy? Consider this list of five things – I am sure there are more but this seems like a good start.
Employees need to know:
1. They are considered partners in the business. They need to know that they were hired based on the value that they brought to the interview. Let them know that you hired them because they displayed a service mentality. As partners in the business, the goal of “creating happy customers” rests squarely on their daily interactions with customers.
2. Your expectations. Don’t make them guess. Be clear about your personality and how you manage. Don’t require them to “figure it out” or “ask another employee.” Whether it is in one-one-one meetings, quarterly meetings or weekly huddles – be clear about your expectations.
3. That it is OK to share bad news and problems. As a consultant I often hear from frontline employees that “no one really listens to me.” Yet, every manager should want to know what is really going on – with customers, with internal process, with internal morale. Have more than an “open-door” policy – walk around and chat with the frontline. You have to be accessible before they will be honest.
4. How you really want them to treat customers. It is not enough to say, “Do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.” Is that really what you mean? Do you really want them to give that $500 credit? Set parameters but empower them to make good decisions based on sound business principles.
5. Your vision for the future. We often talk about the vision of the company but what is your personal vision? How does the company vision affect the goals of your organization? Redefine the vision based on your brand of management. After all, if #1 is really true, the next expectation will be to have the employees explain their vision for the company. Their vision needs to be a sub-set of yours.
You already know that frontline employees are the life blood of the company but do they really know why?