You don’t need much of an imagination to put together a worst-case customer service scenario. Say a consumer is emailing your rep about a lapse in service. Something went wrong, maybe not horribly wrong, but wrong to the point of irritating your customer. Already cranky, the customer shoots off a message to your representative. All they want is a little help, a bit of a discount, or simply someone to validate their grievance.

Cycle of Co-dependence

Now, let’s put on our Creativity helmet. If a rep isn’t allowed to operate independently, the customer satisfaction process will often create more tension than it defuses:

Lacking confidence, our rep sends a message up the chain to their supervisor. Suppose then that his or her supervisor isn’t confident in their own ability to placate the customer. As a result, they shoot an email off to their superior (this may mean you), asking for the go-ahead on a refund or discount.

Naturally, you’re extremely busy. What if you can’t answer right away. Worst case scenario, you don’t have FuseDesk to track your tickets and the customer email disappears. The longer the response time, the angrier the customer; the longer they wait, the more chance they’ll become (insert dramatic music) a former customer.

Catch Me When I Fall

To be completely honest, you don’t need all these trust-building seminars that have become cliché to the point of ridiculous these days. No corporate retreats, no psychological exercises. All you really need is to give your employees faith in their ability to choose the right answer for the right situation. Train them to react with frustrated customers, not to them. Allow them the ability to negotiate little victories for the consumer, so they don’t feel forced to turn to a superior for each tiny decision.

Here’s Where It Hurts A Little

As a businessperson, trusting employees to do the right thing is scary as hell. Of course, this doesn’t mean giving them carte blanche over the delicate customer service process, but it does mean yielding them some power. With power comes trust. While absolute trust could yield absolute disaster or at least a dictatorial consumer relations department, a little bit of trust can create a stronger employee and more loyalty. It will also benefit your customers, as they’ll spend less time waiting and more time satisfied with your company (and hopefully writing reviews and raving their friends about you).

Naturally, there must be some limitations to a rep’s decision making abilities. Let them trust their gut in situations which won’t blow the budget or drastically alter your operations. You’ll be surprised how astute and helpful a confident, well-trained rep can be, especially one with a little free will.