- Published on Friday, 01 June 2012 03:44
- Written by Jonathan Story
- Hits: 294
To customers, it is not your product or service that keeps them coming back but the experience that they have. Every interaction that customers have with your company contributes to their overall experience, and your employees all interact, directly or indirectly, with the customer. Marsha Collier, author of The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide, provides advice on how to get your employees to work for you, and not against you, as ambassadors of your brand.
Happy employees tend to be more engaged with the company. If they interact with the customer, they will want the customer to be pleased with the contact. Here are five ways to get employees more invested in the company:
1. Spend time with employees during work hours
Set aside specific time in your workday to see the relationships that take place during the daily flow of business. Encourage employees to engage with online social communities as ambassadors for the company, giving guidelines about the limits to what ought and ought not take place.
Look for natural leaders. Are there individuals that other employees look to for help or advice? See that they are in supervisory positions with appropriate status and pay, and make sure that the work they are supposed to be doing does not conflict with the leadership role they have taken on.
Check the tone of communication between employees. Is it respectful and not condescending? Even otherwise excellent employees may be company bullies, so make sure that the company's policy against a toxic workplace is known and enforced.
2. Interact with employees — listening only is not enough
Although it can be tempting to believe that it is enough to "be seen", that is often not true. Helping employees to believe that you are on their team requires mutual communication, allowing you to learn what is important to them and where their special talents lie. Some suggestions on how to do this are:
- When speaking to one employee, be sure to be complimentary about another.
- Make sure that every employee receives a heartfelt compliment from time to time. This helps them take pride in their work.
- If someone looks overwhelmed with a task, ask if any help is needed. If you cannot help out at the moment, find someone who can.
- If it would be appropriate in the business, set up a separate email address for employees alone to contact you. This might be used, for example, by employees to send a note about a great idea they have come up with. For such things, sometimes an email or written document is more comfortable than discussing it in front of others.
3. Have regular, scheduled meetings
The purpose of these meetings, in addition to communicating changes to procedures or instructions, is to look for feedback from the team. Their unique positions and day-to-day experiences may give them special insights. In particular, those that communicate directly with customers can learn a lot of information that would not otherwise be available. The kinds of discussions that should take place at these regular meetings includes:
- Asking for feedback on current policies and procedures. This should not become a complaint session, but it is important to take notes and listen. Issues raise should be investigated and followed up on.
- Asking for insights on the competition. The number of eyes and ears may yield some valuable, little known, information.
- Answering questions with a question. Sometimes this can help to get past the apparent issue in order to learn what the real issue is. Sometimes such questioning might also reveal the solution.
4. Empower employees to take the initiative
Give employees the autonomy to make their own decisions when there is a customer service crisis — naturally within outlined parameters. This can help encourage thinking on making the system better. To get the best from employees, consider:
- Teaching some "tricks of the trade". Not everything is taught in school or comes up in ordinary work. Give some pointers that could otherwise only have been learned from many years of industry experience.
- Share the spotlight. When receiving a compliment from a customer, be sure to credit the entire team for their effort. If someone with considerable knowledge and experience wants to share some advice, encourage that person to do so.
5. Keep the workplace up-to-date
Where possible, invest in new equipment and training in new techniques or ideas. This demonstrate to employees that you have pride both in the company and in them.