My work as a business coach and sales and service speaker has me traveling quite a bit. I often must run errands and take care of family business while on the road. This past week, in between speaking engagements in South Carolina, I needed to pick-up a graduation card for my nephew. Luckily for me, I quickly found a CVS pharmacy and pulled right into parking lot and headed in to make a purchase.
As I selected the card and headed to the counter, I noticed a long line and one poor customer service person handling it all. Now I know she was a “poor” service person because of the irritated look on her face and the story she shared with every customer in line. Here is what she said: “I am sorry for the long line, CVS says they want to improve customer service, but they keep cutting our staff. They are so greedy.”
So now let’s think about this. Ten customers were standing in line, each waiting their turn and listening repeatedly that CVS is understaffed and greedy. What kind of impression does that make, and what kind of brand is CVS creating? I dare say not the one they want.
Now visualize how much CVS, and other corporations are spending on marketing, advertising, sales training, and big customer initiatives. Vast amount of money is being spent, immeasurable decisions are being made, and big ideas are being undertaken in the name of improving customer experience and increasing revenues; all the while overlooking the most critical factor in the customer experience. The element that is going to decide whether the customer service experience improves or falls flat. That element is the employee.
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” ~ Richard Branson
Oh, I do not mean that employees do not know, that employees are not sent to training, and that employees are not needed to perform these new tasks. I’m implying that they are not involved, not engaged and not on board. Therefore, they are not “really” improving customer service.
So why if we are spending all that money, engaging all the experts, and implementing the right programs; we are still getting employees who act like that “poor” CVS customer service rep? Because we miss the one critical step that ensures we get our employees on board.
The one critical step? Get your employees involved about customer experience right from the start. You can tell your employees what they need to do, but you need to ask them how to do it. Employees support what they help create. If you want your employees to implement your customer service strategy truly then you need to give them a voice in the process. Get them on board early, help them understand why customer service is important and then include their ideas in the strategy.
Engaged employees outperform their competition and in a gallup survey shows that there is a connection between engaged employees and customer satisfaction!
Getting them involved, giving them a voice gets them motivated, engaged and a reason to take ownership. (source – Forbes) Besides, they live this day-in and day-out and they have great ideas!
All the money in the world, all the best experts and all the latest ideas and techniques will never do as much to help you improve customer service as taking the one critical step you need to get your employees on board. Great customer service begins on the front lines of your company and considering this one crucial step will make sure your frontline staff has the same goal in mind as your top executives.