Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Helping employees prioritize great service, part of Managing a Customer Service Team.
- In a perfect world, our employees would make serving customers their top priority. But is that reality? To see for yourself, try observing employees serve customers. See if customers truly are the most important, or if other tasks take precedence. There are few reasons why delighting customers might not be the top priority for employees. Let's explore a few. Conflicting Priorities is one problem. For example, many contact center employees are held to a talk-time standard, while they're supposed to prioritize first-contact resolution.
It's difficult to simultaneously try to end the call faster, while also making sure you've completely resolved the customer's problem. Observation is another challenge. A supervisor in a retail store might ask an associate to arrange the merchandise display and serve customers. At the end of the day, it's far easier to tell if the display is completed than if customers were well served. So, employees naturally devote more attention to activities that are observed. Frequency is also an obstacle to prioritization. Employees tend to understand something's importance by how often their boss talks about it.
Many customer service leaders spend a lot of time discussing problems, metrics, and tasks, but very little time talking about customer satisfaction. So how do we overcome these challenges, and help our employees prioritize customer service? Here are a few steps you can take. Make it explicit. Don't assume that serving customers will naturally be your employees' top priority. When a manager says "I'm not worried about how long "that call takes, make sure you solve their problem", or "The merchandise display can wait, "if a customer needs your help".
Employees will understand that service comes first. Discuss it frequently. Top customer service leaders talk about service with their employees on a daily basis. They review survey results in team meetings, share success stories via email and on bulletin boards, and they discuss service with employees one on one. Employees will understand that service comes first when their boss talks about it all the time. Finally, customer service leaders need to hold their employees accountable. Even with the explicit instructions and frequent discussion, employees may sometimes fail to make their customer a top priority.
Perhaps they're having a bad day, or they're just distracted by something else. Whatever the case, it's up to their leader to provide them with coaching and feedback to get employees back on track. Someone once said that you can tell a person's real priorities by looking at their wallet and their calendar. In other words, the true priorities where we spend our time and money. I encourage you to observe customer service employees in your organization, to see if service is their top priority. Now, don't be alarmed if it isn't. But what you can do is use some of the suggestions in this video to diagnose reasons why something else may be their top focus.
And once you do that, you can help employees prioritize service by making it explicit, discussing it frequently, and holding them accountable.
- 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