Want Your Staff To Care About Customer Service? Care About Your Staff


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All Weather Windows takes staff happiness seriously!
All Weather Windows takes staff happiness seriously!

Staff Satisfaction is Key To Customer Satisfaction

To deliver great customer service, one of the essential ingredients is what your staff are doing, online and off. And if your staff aren’t happy, your customer service will suffer. So will your profits.

In an interview with Paul Taylor, VP of Human Capital at Edmonton-based All Weather Windows, I was intrigued by this 36 year old company, because year after year it keeps winning Best Employer awards and winning Best Managed Company awards.

Honoring Key Values of Integrity, Honesty, Diversity & Customer Service

According to Paul, the secret to their success is that the company has continued to live its values, even as it has grown to a staff to 1,200 people from 40 different countries, many of whom are new immigrants and speak little English.

One of my favorite places in the Netherlands: the oliebollen stand!
One of my favorite places in the Netherlands: the oliebollen stand!

I remember facing some of those foreigner hurdles when my husband and I moved to the Netherlands. You’d think it would be an easy move, because many Dutch people speak English, and the culture isn’t vastly different from ours. But there were still many times I nearly cried in frustration.

We had been told, for example, that we had to register with the police. So I tried calling the police to find out what we needed to do. I kept getting an automated message in a language I couldn’t understand. Several times I tried to make out a few words, hung up, tried to find them in my Dutch-English dictionary, but no luck. Eventually I noticed that one word was changing each time I called. It was a number.  Ah ha, I finally realized, the message was saying “There are 4 calls before you…. There are 3 calls before you… There are 2 calls before you… ” Yes! This time I hung on and prayed that the person I’d get at the end would speak some English. (Luckily, he did.)

Preventing Problems At Home From Becoming Problems At Work

All Weather Windows realizes that if their staff are having problems outside of work, those distractions will show up at work too, so it is in the company’s best interests to help. And if you don’t speak the language, calling an Employee Family Assistance Program line isn’t likely to be something you’ll feel comfortable doing.

So in 2006 All Weather Windows started a Chaplaincy program. Personally, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the religious overtones of this, but in practice what they do is non-religious social work. They walk around the shop floor and get to know the staff. Staff trust them, and know that what is told to the chaplains is truly confidential.

They help with all sorts of problems. (Paul tells of one chaplain who went with an immigrant staffer to demand a refund when a car she had bought turned out to be a lemon.) If a staffer needs help beyond what they can provide, the Chaplain doesn’t just give them a telephone number, he or she will do a “warm handoff”, sometimes even going with them to the first meeting. This is just one of many great programs that have helped them keep a staff turnover rate that is much lower than the industry average. Others he discusses in the interview include:

  • A strong commitment to safety, and safety training.
  • Leadership training for team leads and new managers.
  • A detailed road map given to managerial staff to help them know exactly how to get a new employee integrated effectively, including what needs to be done, who needs to be met with, and in what order.
  • In-depth orientation programs for all staff, that help them understand the whole business, not just their little corner of it.
  • Interpreters provided to help employees completing satisfaction surveys.
  • English language training.
  • Opportunities for all staff to participate in community volunteer projects.
  • A prayer room (mostly used by Muslims who need to pray several times a day).

A Culture of Openness & Responsiveness

In the 1980s we heard a lot about MBWA (Management By Wandering Around), a concept popularized by Peters and Waterman in their book “In Search of Excellence”. It’s a concept practiced by the leadership of this company too. The CEO sees what is going on, and staff at all levels feel comfortable talking to him. Staff also know that their suggestions are likely to be acted on. When one of them commented, in a casual conversation, that it would be nice to have a good TV to watch the World Cup on, the President went out and bought a 90″ screen that was installed in the lunch room the very next day. With such a diverse workforce, the chance for employees to share the World Cup experience got people who would normally not know each other enjoying the experience together. It is that sort of thing that helps keep the family feeling of the company alive.

But What If My Company Isn’t This Employee-Friendly?

Paul offers this advice to new managers in companies that aren’t already convinced that strong human resources makes for a strong company:

  1. Learn the business, not just your part of it.
  2. Talk to key people about their perceptions.
  3. Start making headway by implementing something small that is likely to have success, and make sure you’ve got the measures to prove that it was a success.
  4. Tie your success metrics to key business metrics. Prove how your efforts can lower turnover, decrease defect rates, and thus lead to lower costs, higher customer satisfaction and profits.

To hear the interview with Paul Taylor, visit htttp://frankreactions.com/5 or find Frank Reactions on iTunes or Stitcher.

Tema Frank
Tema Frank, Chief Instigator at Frank Reactions, is a pioneer in assessing multi-channel customer experience. She was testing omni-channel customer service with her 1st company, Web Mystery Shoppers, before "omnichannel" was a thing! Hers was one of the world's 1st companies to do real-world testing of online and offline customer service & usability. A best-selling author & highly rated international speaker, she hosts the Frank Reactions podcast, and is the author of the new book PeopleShock: The Path to Profits When Customers Rule. Get the 1st chapter free at http://peopleshock.com .


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