Creating great customer experience comes down to having great people and treating them well. Looking after your people makes them feel more engaged with your organization and more committed to your service goals. But how do you put principle into practice?These are the four tenets adopted by the best companies.Listen to your employees
If you want your employees to take good care of your customers, start by taking good care of your employees. Treating them respectfully and fairly goes without saying. But go a step further, and get personally involved in tackling their issues and needs. Ensure you have formal mechanisms for employees to express their concerns, either at regular open meetings, through anonymous channels such as internal surveys, or via an ombudsman. Then take action. Communicate what you are doing and how long it will take, and involve the employees themselves in the solution. Clearly there are limits to what management can do, but by taking tangible action to address employees’ concerns, you demonstrate the strength of your commitment to your front line.
Hire for attitude, not aptitude
If you want friendly service, hire friendly people. Put another way, you can train for skill, but you can’t train for attitude. Imbibe this conviction in the front-line hiring process. To recruit individuals with a natural service bent, use group interviews. Watching how applicants interact with each other enables the interviewer to assess candidates’ communications and people skills to an extent that wouldn’t be possible in a one-to-one setting. Having hired people with the right attitudes, leaders need to ensure they reinforce the behaviors they want to see. Leaders actions are visible to all and every leader is telling a story about what they value.
Give people purpose, not rules
To ensure consistent execution across all their operations, large corporations need to define standard operating processes. However, rules and guidelines go only so far. Front-line employees participating in infinitely varied customer interactions won’t always find the answers in manuals. Besides, mechanically following a script saps interactions of authenticity. Instead of detailed lists of process steps, the best companies supply front-line staff with common purpose backed by clear quality standards. Common purpose – a succinct explanation of the customer experience you are trying to create at an emotional level – motivates employees and gives their work meaning. They choose to go that extra mile through personal passion, not passive compliance.
Tap into the creativity of your front line
Giving front-line employees responsibility and autonomy creates a sense of ownership that inspires them to do everything they can to improve the customer experience. When they see a problem, they fix it without waiting to be asked. The best companies recognize that front-line staff are also a rich source of customer insights. They can help leaders understand what customers want – and how to provide it – without the time and expense of market research. To get the most value from these insights, organizations need to build good and robust channels to get information up the hierarchy to leaders who can act on it.
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