How to win the commitment of staff
Imagine the following scenario:
You have been promoted to the position of Customer Service Manager. Good news!
But you find you have inherited a department that provides poor customer service! The staff are demotivated, and more interested in their pay packet than providing excellent customer service (and the organisation's pay structure inhibits you from providing any performance-based financial reward).
Various things have been tried in the past. They have had customer service training, for example, and their jobs are clearly defined, but all the surveys undertaken show that they have had very little impact.
What do you do?
Customer Service Architects
To improve customer service in this scenario you need to concentrate on developing motivation.
The most powerful motivators are not monetary. They include a variety of things, such as:
- a sense of achievement
- a feeling that the job is worthwhile
- thanks or recognition from respected people
- a sense of having made a difference
- contributing to a long term vision
- developing a new understanding
- bringing organisation into a situation of chaos
- building up knowledge, skill or experience
Not all of these are of the same importance for each individual - different people are motivated by different things. This is of particular relevance when deciding how to tackle the issue, because there are (broadly speaking) two approaches:
- developing a standard approach
- enabling staff to develop their own approach
The problem with option (1) is that it often presumes that employees have a particular type of motivation. If they do, then the approach you introduce will work. But if they don't then your standard approach will not win their commitment (at most you will gain 'compliance' with your appraoch which, in a customer service environment, is just not good enough). Proponents of this option may argue that a standard approach is required to achieve quality - but if supposed "quality" is achieved at the expense of staff commitment, then the level of customer service will be poor.
The value of option (2) - which enables staff to become the architects of their own customer service - is that staff can incorporate the things that motivate them in to that approach. You need standards as well - but if staff are involved in the development of those standards then then are much more likely to be committed to them.
Customer Service Workshops
Staff can become architects of the customer service through a workshop-based approach. Take your team offsite for a couple of days, and take them through a syndicate-based process where they:
- think about their own experiences - good and bad
- define what is (generically) good customer service
- apply those definitions to their own environment
- ask a customer to make a presentation (followed by Q&A) on "the type of service I want from you". Have syndicate discussions afterwards to review the issues raised.
- get them to produce an action plan to follow up on the workshop.
- appoint a follow-up manager, to make sure that all the output from the workshops is supported by management, and progress on actions are regularly communicated to everyone involved
This approach gives staff:
- direct exposure to customers' views of the service they provide
- the opportunity to shape the future customer service (and thereby implicitly include what motivates them)
- full support from management
- an efficient communication mechanism to see that their suggestions are being acted upon
These are the essential components for winning commitment of staff to better customer service.
©2013 Team Technology. Further articles/resources that may be of interest include: Personality Test, Personality Type Descriptions, Myers Briggs overview, The Basics of Team Building, What Career is Right for Me?, and Career ideas.