Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring the manager's paradox, part of Managing a Customer Service Team.
- Customer service leaders face an interesting dilemma. On one hand, you know you should invest your time in developing your team, solving problems and improving customer service. On the other hand, many customer service leaders find themselves overwhelmed with an avalanche of work and spend most of their days putting out fires. I call this the customer service manager's paradox. You don't have time now to invest in developing your team, but you'll spend even more time later if you don't do it now. I'd like to walk you through a few steps to conquer this paradox.
Step one is to identify a specific problem, challenge or opportunity to focus on. A customer service leader realized she didn't have enough time to give her employees feedback on their performance. The paradox was this lack of feedback was leading to more errors. This, in turn, took up even more of her time. Her solution was to create a process where each member of the team would be observed on a regular basis and receive immediate feedback. She enlisted her employees to help her design it, so they'd buy into the process and she'd be able to speed up development.
She also created a feedback tracking system so she could quickly see if she was giving the same feedback to multiple employees, which might be a sign of a larger issue. It took her about a month to implement this process, but the payoff was improved employee performance, faster problem resolution and ultimately, more time available to give feedback. The second step is to make that initiative a priority. This means putting aside other projects until you get this one done. That's how the customer service leader was able to design and implement her feedback system.
She realized that she was working on many little projects simultaneously. She found extra time by putting those other projects on hold and making her feedback system a top priority. That leads us to the third step, involve your team. Employees want to help to make things better. They often have great ideas and creative energy to add to it. A great example comes from a customer service leader who wanted to create a video she could show to new employees. The idea was to let employees know what the culture was like and explain the customer service vision.
The only problem was the team leader didn't have the budget to hire a professional film crew and didn't have the time or the expertise to do it on her own. Her solution was to pose the challenge to a few of her employees she knew were interested in film. They actually came up with a way to shoot the video on an iPhone and edit it using software they already had on their computers. The finished product turned out to be outstanding and the employees who made it were energized by the project. Best of all, the manager spent very little of her own time and none of the department's budget creating the video.
Being a great customer service leader takes a lot of time management skills. There are two activities you can try to help you overcome the customer service manager's paradox. The first is to download the Learning Plan Worksheet that comes with this course. Take a moment to review the progress you've made towards your learning goals and chart out an action plan for your continued development. This step can help you save time in the long run by helping you prioritize your own development. The second activity is to take the "Getting Things Done" course on lynda.com.
David Allen provides some outstanding productivity principles in his course. I've been using these principles myself for more than 10 years with great success. We can't add any more hours to the day, but we can be more effective by using the time we do have more wisely.
- Clearly defining outstanding service for employees
- Evaluating service quality
- Identifying obstacles to outstanding service
- Aligning resources to optimize service delivery
- Calculating the cost of poor service