Perhaps one of the biggest customer service challenges companies face is getting their employees to put theory into practice. Companies spend untold sums trying to come up with even more exciting, enticing and creative programmes and campaigns to motivate their employees to deliver better service, but these have limited and seemingly unsustained success.
Grace Harding, CEO of Actuate, believes that if business owners and managers want their employees to deliver better service, they need to start marketing customer service internally far more forcefully than they ever have in the past. “And by ‘marketing’ we don’t mean drawing up a list of ‘customer service commandments’ – we mean putting together a communications strategy that sells the concept of customer service to an audience i.e. your staff,” she explains.
The starting point, before you send out a call to action, is to provide employees with a customer service context. Harding explains: “Research shows that people are far more likely to act in a particular way if they understand the purpose behind the action and how it fits into a particular context. Get employees to understand what customer service means to the business and then consider what they can do in each of their individual roles to bring about the desired customer result.”
Follow a few simple steps, in the correct order:
- Deconstruct what good customer service means in your organisation.
Get staff to draw up a list of all the things your business needs to be effective. This might include anything from product knowledge and reliable systems to an understanding of the customer and properly trained staff. Work through all aspects of your business, both back- and front-end, and don’t leave anything out. Write these points down and be aware that what’s important to one business may not be as important to another.
- Identify the necessary behaviours.
Working from your list, pull out the behaviours needed to make these things happen. If your business needs reliable systems in order to be effective (and therefore deliver good service), one of the behaviours you might identify is strong product knowledge of the company’s IT system.
- Engage your people.
The people in your organisation are the ones who are going to have to display the behaviours you’ve identified so bring them into the loop by taking them through the process you’ve just gone through. They need to come away from this engagement with an understanding of:
- The purpose of the business. who it aims to serve and how;
- Who the customers are and what they expect;
- What all the ‘cogs’ in the business machine need to do in order to deliver on these expectations;
- The individual behaviours needed to keep those cogs turning as they should.
Finally, and most importantly, collate and capture all the information and prepare a detailed and sustained communication plan to entrench these behaviours in your people. Such a plan should be characterised by continuous engagement across a wide range of communication media.
For more information, contact Grace Harding, CEO of Actuate, on +27 11 343 9100 or visit www.actuate.co.za