While speaking to a group, on how to deliver a great customer experience, one of the attendees mentioned an example of the difficulty he experienced with customer service when attempting to renew his driver’s license. He explained that, “the employees seemed not to care or [to be] concerned with how long the lines were and the resulting customer frustration.”
Now I can certainly understand how this might be an unpleasant situation for customers, but are the employees totally at fault? Who’s really responsible for the customer’s experience. Here’s four points that I asked him to consider — ideas that every small business owner should take to heart.
Is leadership actively engaged?
In the above mentioned scenario, here are several questions that come to mind — that every small business owner should consider: How do you and your key leaders respond to a similar type of situation? Are your leaders actively engaged in daily business operations? Are they in tune with the front line employees? Are they open to input from the front line? Is their commitment to providing adequate operational resources; not necessarily additional employees, but updated technology or improved processes?
Does your leadership team regularly service customers themselves to stay in touch with the “real world”? Do you regularly review customer surveys? Are your leaders required to contact unhappy customers to insure they remain a customer? All of these things are crucial in you and your leadership team’s willingness to be actively engaged in creating positive customer experiences.
Does leadership exercise positive motivation?
While it’s the responsibility of customer facing employees to create great customer experiences, it’s also the responsibility of senior leadership to utilize positive motivational incentives. It does not have to be extra money (this might be nice though!).
Make a big deal out of the reduction in customer complaints. Did an employee offer an idea that resulted in cost reductions? Celebrate it! When a customer offers a compliment about an employee’s performance, let the whole company know! Who doesn’t want to be recognized for a job well done or the extra effort taken to insure a customer’s satisfaction? Provide positive reinforcement to help create the right atmosphere for providing great customer experiences.
Does leadership encourage teamwork?
In order to create great customer experiences, teamwork is a necessity. Is your leadership team encouraging teamwork within the organization? Do performance standards include an element relative to teamwork? Is the importance of serving one’s internal customer well communicated on a regular basis? Is leadership encouraging cross functional communication between departments or functions?
Can employees communicate how they impact others within the organization? How well can employees identify the product they create within the organization? How well does their product meet the standards of their internal customer? Is anyone accumulating data on internal customer complaints? Leadership’s willingness to make teamwork a major ingredient in the organization’s culture is crucial to creating great customer experiences.
Is leadership in tune with customers?
It’s always amazing what you can learn from personally servicing customers. For example, you can learn what customers like and prefer, what service delivery processes are effective or what may need some improvement. Every organization should consider: Are you in tune with the customer? Do leaders regularly spend time with customers? Are you able to effectively communicate the features and benefits of products and services?
Do you set the example for employees on how to treat customers. Are you seen interacting with and or resolving customer issues? When leaders set the pace for the organization in regards to creating great customer experiences, a boost in morale is likely to follow.
When determining who’s responsible for the customer’s experience, I say hands down it’s leadership! All business leaders should be actively engaged, exercise positive motivation, encourage teamwork and be more in tune with customers.
Speaker, author and consultant Errol Allen is the founder and CEO of Errol Allen Consulting, a Houston, Texas based company that provides customer service training, customer service strategy development, operations analysis/improvement and supervisor/management training. He utilizes his 25 years of hands-on experience in assisting his clients in creating customer focused organizations. Join Errol on his Blog Talk Radio show “Now That’s Customer Service!” for practical tips and information.
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