Great customer service starts with caring for your employees.
As a leader or manager in most organizations, your employees are the ones on the front lines interacting with customers or clients and providing service. Their demeanor and spirit help to create a memorable experience and one that captivates loyalty with repeat business and word-of-mouth marketing. Your investment in your employees should be near top priority as you lead or manage your organization.
Employees should be well taken care of so that they can be motivated and equipped to deliver sincere, friendly service that cannot be “purchased” with a paycheck. Customers and clients can easily read an employee that is disgruntled and unhappy in their role. Building trust and adding value to employees will create a culture where the team enjoys coming to work and being together. This investment in your organizational culture will significantly contribute to the experience your customer or client has and will ultimately become a part of your brand.
- Vision casting – Start with Why (check out the book by the same name by Simon Sinek). Employees want to buy into why you do what you do. Once they get this, remind them often, cast vision for them and help remind them how their role fits in the big picture. Often times we can get caught up in the details but a timely reminder of why and vision helps to motivate and energize.
- Compensation – Don’t go cheap. Develop your budget and plan financially to compensate your team fairly. This doesn’t always need to be in the form of salaries and benefits but seek other ways to add value to them. Monitor your competition closely in the category of compensation and benefits and aim to be competitive. Remember that employees will know what their counterparts are paid at other organizations. While it may be difficult to quantify or calculate, keep in mind that high turn over and job knowledge loss comes at a cost too.
- Culture of trust – Be approachable. I prefer a casual style of leadership because I hope to be approachable to my employees. I want to foster an environment where at any point they will share with me their joys or challenges and regularly provide feedback. Always tell the truth, be gentle but be direct and encourage your team to learn from their mistakes. Do not berate or belittle them when something goes wrong.
- Invest – Add value. Employees will leave for other opportunities but make sure they leave as better people. Employee investment opportunities are abundant. Consider new experiences, different responsibilities, project management or training. Schedule regular development sessions, teach them life and work skills, encourage a life-work balance and be generous with constructive and encouraging feedback.
- Represent – Advocate for your team. As a manager, you will often cast vision, set a course and assign work but once you have done that allow them to work on their own. Set guidelines and parameters but do not micromanage unless there is clear evidence of poor performance or another issue. Once it is clear what the mission, task or job is, let the employee do their job. Check in on them to encourage them, support them and provide coaching. Advocate for your team up and across the organizational flagpole. Be sure that your team is well represented by communicating on their behalf, requesting additional resources or praising them for their work and accomplishments.
Danny Myer in his book, Setting The Table, writes this radical statement: “The interests of our own employees must be placed directly ahead of those of our guests because the only way we can consistently earn raves, win repeat business, and develop bonds of loyalty with our guests is first to ensure that our own team members feel jazzed about coming to work.” Feeling jazzed about coming to work creates an optimistic and happy spirit that cannot be purchased and is contagious.
Myer goes on to write, “Considering that most of us spend about one-third of our lives at work, it is the value of the human experience we have with our colleagues – what we learn from one another, how much fun we have working together, and how much mutual respect and trust we share – that has the greatest influence on job satisfaction.” Job satisfaction is quickly sensed by guests and customers and helps to foster memorable experiences.
Great customer service starts with caring for your employees. This care may take various forms but regardless of your means of compensation, work intentionally to invest in your team and to build a positive culture where they can work to the best of their abilities. Be kind, gracious and sincerely advocate for their good. Discover how this ROI will pay large dividends for you and your brand.
What do you do to invest in your employees and to develop an enjoyable culture in your organization?
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