Customer Service Will Innovate If Fear of Failure Low

Customer service teams, technical support teams, help desks, customer care centers, and call centers have one critical customer service challenge in this decade — adapting to customers’ needs and preferences.  It takes more than just multiple customer service venues (channels) or the latest technology and knowledge management to satisfy diverse expectations of customers around the globe.

It takes empowered CSRs, technical support reps, help desk analysts, and call center agents that are allowed to innovate without fear of failure or punishment.

Companies in every sector are touting innovation as the top focus for continued success yet not implementing this empowerment at the front line.  Necessity is the mother of invention (innovation) IF fear of failure or punishment is low. Otherwise the front line sticks to a pre-determined routine and set of rules that fall short of  superior service to diverse customers.

Innovate Customer Service at the Front Line

  1. Communicate the purpose, values, and mission of customer service. On that basis, trust staff to make appropriate judgments and in-the-moment decisions on adapting to customers. Nordstroms and Zappos successfully empower their front line.
  2. Use staff meetings to develop a culture of continuous improvements. The front line knows what each customer is thinking. Encourage them to innovate by tapping their knowledge and ideas for improvements.
  3. Foster and recognize the front line for their innovations that deliver great customer service.

BONUS: In addition to higher customer satisfaction ratings, the front line achieves greater job satisfaction. Doubtful?

Studies at MIT and University of Chicago, as summarized by Daniel Pink, DRIVE: Motivation Beyond Carrots & Sticks, show that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the motivators of great performance and seeds of job satisfaction (except for purely mechanical tasks).

Customer service professionals are very purpose driven. The best seek jobs in enlightened companies that tap their commitment and give them autonomy to innovate and deliver the best possible service. Attract the best talent and they will deliver the best service!


What else will encourage the front line to innovate for better service?

What else can customer service leaders do to increase performance and retain the best staff?

3 Responses to “Customer Service Will Innovate If Fear of Failure Low”

  1. Jim Morgan says:

    Right on target, Kate. As I recently wrote for my company site, “One of the most consistent findings in teamwork science is that individual, group and team empowerment—giving people more control over their daily work lives—has a strong positive impact on a wide range of business measures, including profit.”

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I agree Jim — it’s not just customer service teams — it’s all teams! Thanks for the broader reminder.
      Let me know when your next teamwork post goes up.
      Best wishes,

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