The Connection Between Customer Service and Employee Empowerment
We’ve all heard the old adage: happy staff = happy customers. But we think it’s more than that. We think that it’s empowering your staff to solve customer issues that makes the big difference.
Previously we looked at what customers want from a customer service adviser. One of them was taking ownership for ensuring an issue is rectified.
How can customer service staff take ownership?
You must allow your staff the power to solve a problem or surprise and delight customers.
While any business sets out to provide good products and services, the larger a business gets, the more difficult it is to provide good customer service across the board. For those businesses that get it right, the secret is empowering and engaging staff to be good ambassadors for the brand.
How to empower your customer service employees
Empowerment is key to happy employees and happy customers too. We’ll take a look at some of the ways you can help empower your customer services team to take ownership, resolve issues easily and delight your customers.
Random Acts of Kindness
A number of brands famously allow their staff the ability to surprise and delight customers. It has been widely reported that staff in Pret a Manger are encouraged (not just permitted but encouraged) to give away free coffees or food each week.
Apparently, the policy is a cheaper and simpler alternative to a loyalty-card scheme. And it’s not an urban myth: a couple of people in our office regularly benefit from free Pret lunches.
It is a great idea to empower staff to make the customer experience a pleasant one. It has become more and more common for companies to include campaigns to provide ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ to customers as part of their marketing budget.
Give them freedom (and a budget)
As well as surprising and delighting customers, empowering staff to resolve issues has a huge impact on customer satisfaction.
AO.com, for example, recognises that all staff have a part to play in their culture and vision of the business. If something does go wrong, they empower their staff to make it right for customers up to a certain budget.
This gives the employee a sense of control and ownership over the problem, as well as giving the customer the satisfaction of having their issues resolved simply (and hopefully quickly too).
Trust them to know what’s best
Timpson have a well known ethos to provide great customer service:
We operate an ‘Upside Down’ management style.
They believe the best way to give great customer service is to give freedom to the colleagues that serve customers. They have put guidelines in place and trust their people to do what they can to make sure the customer is happy.
Help free up their time
Talk to your customer services team about what eats up their time day to day. Issues like the following can take up their time and decrease their efficiency:
- Being asked the same question repeatedly
- A simple and potentially avoidable task
- Long processes with multiple hoops
Take these on-board and find solutions – if they’re being asked the same questions, perhaps review your marketing materials or customer on-boarding processes. If there is a simple task employees are required to do every day, or multiple times a day, which could be resolved or avoided if their systems were updated – get that sorted.
Not only will they have more time to delight your customers, they’ll thank you for it too.
Ask for their help
Your customer service team are on the ground talking to your customers more than anyone else. They are the perfect people to ask for feedback, opinions and input into your services and product – not just how you deal with customers.
How employee empowerment leads to good customer service
So in short, great customer service is not something a company provides: it is giving power to the people who provide customer service.
As long as your culture and people are aligned to put customers first, your brand should thrive!
And if you missed it, why not catch up on some of our other customer service related posts.