Every single day, every single shift, customer-facing employees see how the leaders in their organization behave and what those leaders value and reward. So, as a leader, even though you’re probably not intentionally encouraging your employees to give bad customer service, consider whether your actions, and inactions, are essentially training them to provide customers with less than the stellar customer service you, and they, are hoping for.
Watch out, in particular, for the following missteps and habits that may be sabotaging your best intentions.
- Not walking the walk. If your employees hear you tell old war stories about how customers are always trying to take advantage of you, and how you "showed them you wouldn't fall for that," how do you expect them to react when it's their turn to take care of (or fail to take care of) the customer in front of them?
- Not establishing expectations. In the absence of clearly defined high standards to respond to customers, employees will make up their own. “We provide world class customer service” isn’t enough guidance. A company needs standards — behavioral standards — that define, in the majority of situations, how customer service should be provided. (For the situations that can’t be predicted, employee empowerment is the ticket.)
- Not providing employees with the tools they need to serve your customers properly. You can give lip service to the idea that employees "should take care of the customer" all you like, but if you give those same employees out-of-date, slow, clunky, inadequate tools — whether that means a broken broom or an out-of-date CRM — who do you think you're kidding?
- Not providing adequate resources. Unreasonable call volumes, unreasonable customer loads … The nicest, best-intentioned employees in the world are going to fail in such circumstances.
- Not showing you care about your employees’ work environment. Wouldyou want to use your employees' restroom? What about their break room? If not, what is that saying about how you care about them, and how important they are to your organization? You shouldn't expect them to care any more about your customers as you do about them.
- Not offering sufficient, ongoing customer service training. Customer service training is not simply a Day One and Done kind of thing. It needs to happen regularly; it needs to have sustainability components; it needs to include role-playing and other practical components, as well as the philosophical basics.
- Not asking for employee input before announcing a new customer service initiative. If you don't allow your employees to weigh in, it’s hard to expect them to buy in.
- Keeping employees in the dark. No employee wants to hear of a new marketing initiative, promotion or product launch from the customer first.
- Not sharing the big picture. Since it's employees who can make the biggest impact on the company's customer satisfaction goals, shouldn't you be sharing those goals with them and giving them updates to make sure you are all on track?
- Not recognizing individuals for their efforts. If the only thing your employees get out of their job is a paycheck, you, as a leader, have failed them.
For more on this topic, read NewVoiceMedia’s whitepaper Attention Service Leaders.
Micah Solomonis a customer service consultant, speaker, author, and thought leader.