We have all had a bad customer service experience, right? But now more than ever, customer service should be the most important factor for all businesses. Not only is competition tough, with more and more start-ups battling for a share of the market, but customers now have the power to be heard (even if they don’t all realise it yet!).
The old saying that a bad experience will be shared with ten times as many people as a good experience is out-dated. Frighteningly, it is probably closer to 100 times. Think how many people see a Twitter or Facebook feed?
Half of Facebook users have more than 200 friends so if just a few of them felt a friends experience was worth sharing as a warning to others, the potential audience is huge. This could be really costly to your brand image and is so easily avoidable.
This is the time for businesses to be empowering their staff to make things better for the customer. It is a factor in organisations big and small, employees needing to speak with the manager, blaming company procedure or ignore a problem in the hope it goes away.
If you give your team the tools to support customers they can nip problems in the bud early on, but be sure to establish parameters. This is important, you don’t want one customer getting the red carpet treatment and another getting a plastic cup of tap water and stale rich tea biscuits.
Setting reasonable boundaries for your business, encouraging performance and establishing rewarding initiatives that improve service overall can make a real difference.
Happy staff are more productive, retention goes up and the customer’s experience is so good it becomes worth shouting about. So what can you do to improve customer service? Try these Employee Empowerment principles:
Timpson – Share the power
John Timpson’s Upside Down Management principle has been well documented. He has been empowering his team for decades and has published successful books on his practices.
He provides a thorough training scheme and gives his colleagues access up to £500 to solve customer issues before they need authorisation from a manager. This means they can resolve the issues quickly and efficiently while feeling trusted to do so.
Disney – Reward Good Work
Disney are world renowned for their guest experience, with ‘cast members’ working to ensure every touch point is magical. One way they empower their staff is through a simple demonstration of genuine care.
They make sure they thank their staff, they listen to them for unique opportunities to take action or provide reasoned responses and they share positive customer stories. People naturally want to be successful and being rewarded in even the simplest ways encourages and reinforces these positive attributes.
You could take this further and create a reward scheme such as extra days off, financial bonuses or special event tickets.
Google – Nurture Creativity
A world leader for innovation, it is no surprise that Google go to great lengths to provide a creative and inclusive work environment. Google Cafes encourage individuals to interact with people from other departments, promoting shared ideas for both work and play.
Google Moderator is a management tool that allows people company wide to get involved in meetings by asking questions, voting up questions and generally being involved in new ideas.
They also allow engineers to spend 20% of their working week on projects that interest them personally. This is a great way of encouraging employees to explore them own ideas and bring new services and products to the company.
Now, how you empower your staff will depend on your employees, business and the needs of your customers. However, it is important that your staff feel responsible for your customer’s experience and the positive image of your organisation.
Giving them the power to take action to achieve this will turn them into your greatest brand ambassadors who want everyone to love your brand like they do.