When a company comes to the realization that it’s strayed from its core values or desired customer experience, it often results in a new push for its employees to reconnect with customers and to provide better service. This sounds simple enough, but why is it so hard for this approach to succeed? Common missteps in this approach are what prevent a higher rate of success.
The first misstep is a lack of honest evaluation. It is very easy to simply conclude that employees are not giving 100% effort to delivering a top notch experience. But, more often, a less than stellar experience is merely a symptom of the problem. Do representatives have enough support? Are there enough people on staff at any given time to adequately handle the customer load? If representatives are stretched too thin, if they’re overworked and over-stressed and generally unable to do their jobs in the manner in which they aspire to, it’s not just demoralizing, it’s physically and emotionally next to impossible to care about each interaction and treat the customer as someone who is highly valued. Figure out the root cause of the problem rather than oversimplifying it.
The other common misstep is a lack of open communication and support. It is not sufficient to dictate that an excellent experience is consistently delivered. There must be open lines of communication between leadership and representatives. This requires asking a lot of questions. What are the struggles representatives are having? Where do they stem from? What do they need more of? What do they need less of? Rather than serving as an arbiter of company goals and performance standards, it’s of the utmost importance that leadership instead views itself as support staff to those on the front lines. How can we help you help our customers?
If we can assume that our hiring choices were made wisely, that our company is staffed with good people who care about their performance, their customers, and the company, we must also accept that it is cognitively dissonant to suddenly assume that there is a systemic lack of caring among those same representatives. If morale or performance is slipping in a fairly widespread manner, there is something larger afoot than individuals separately but coincidentally being off their best game. If standards have been on a downward slide, it’s time to consider the causes more deeply than the easier but less effective approach of pointing fingers at those who are customer-facing.