Leaders, Get ALL Your Employees to Think Customer Care!
by Kate Nasser |
A customer service trainer and colleague, Laurie Brown of TheDifference.Net, often asks customer service reps What Business Are You In?. What would you reply? The customer service and care business? Or would you reply the airline business, the retail business, the technology business, the healthcare business? As a leader, your answer directly impacts what you and your employees think, say, and do for the customer.
You may see this as logical for the teams directly tasked with customer service, customer care and sales. Yet leaders, ask yourselves, do all your employees think that customer care is their job? Do you think so? We know the legendary philosophy of Disney, Nordstroms, and Ritz Carlton. We also know that not every company embraces it. Reasons range from “cost” to “industry differences”.
So consider this post a plea to reconsider and a getting started guide for the sake of your business.
Even if you keep non-customer facing teams truly separated from the customer, they must think and act customer care in order to enable your sales, customer service, and customer care teams to wow the customer. If they do have occasion to speak with the customer, they must switch their mindset and communication from company focused to customer focused in an instant!
You can get started with no delay and little cost. Use the stories and questions below to spur conversation and action on customer care with the leaders that report to you and throughout your organization.
Accelerate to Customer Care
- Exceptions. Non-customer facing teams often live in the world of procedures and standard practices. Customer facing teams like sales, customer service, and customer care live in the world of flexing and adapting to customers’ requests. The gap between these two worlds is where you lose customers and also lose morale among the customer facing teams.
Action item: Minimize this gap by having customer facing and non-customer facing teams meet and identify the few highest risk areas where procedures must be followed. All else can be flexed and changed to meet the customers’ requests. The bonus from these meetings — better teamwork among all the teams.
- Workarounds. To deliver on those exceptions, sometimes employees must first think workarounds rather than the total fix. Here is a story I have used for years to illustrate this as I teach customer care to non-customer facing teams: A customer facing team calls you about a customer’s pressing need. The customer reports he is having trouble printing the financial report and it must be in his CEO’s hands in 10 minutes.
I then pose this question to workshop participants: What is the problem to be solved? Most of them reply “fix the printer” or “find out why the printer isn’t working”. Bzzzz — wrong answer. The problem to be solved is — get the report to the CEO in 10 minutes! Step 1: What are the possible solutions to achieving this in the time frame needed? Step 2: Once accomplished, what are the solutions to preventing a repeat call?
Customer facing teams clearly see the purpose of two steps because they experience the urgency on the call. Non-customer facing teams often do not. They often skip step 1.
Action item: Teach this simple yet powerful principle to your teams.
- The New Boss. Non-customer facing teams’ loyalty and focus is frequently to their managers. Their managers write their performance reviews and have a say in promotions. Although this is true of customer facing teams as well, these managers know that in many ways the customer is the boss. The standards these managers use include customer satisfaction and customer WOW feedback. Not always so with the leaders and managers of non-customer facing teams.
Action item: Include customer satisfaction and customer care teamwork in evaluations of non-customer facing team members.
What would you add to this list to get all employees to think customer care? Would love to hear from you in the comments field below.
©2010 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, has delivered customer care, customer service, and team building workshops for 20 years. Her new training DVD on adapting to regional differences of USA customers is now available. See preview Customer Service USA – What They Expect Coast to Coast.