The Right Tool for the Job

We all recognize examples of good customer service, and we can distinguish them from poor customer service.  Yet our analysis of customer service often focuses on how we felt after an encounter.  Did we feel better about the organization than we did before?  Or were we angry, vowing never to do business with that company again?

Let’s take a look at the other side of the exchange for a moment though.  Why do some employees seem to ooze goodwill, and why do certain organizations excel at customer service?  I’m not going too far out on a limb when I suggest that much of it can be traced back to good managers providing their employees with the right tools to do their jobs.  And one of those tools is empowerment.

But empowering people is more than just telling them they have the latitude to do what is best.  Empowering employees doesn’t happen overnight.  Instead, employees become empowered when they have a deeper understanding of your organization’s “why’s.”  This kind of understanding is cultivated in an environment where managers listen, share, support, and trust.  Neglect these basic values, and employees will surely feel disconnected and unrecognized.

Who do you think provides better customer service – an employee who feels disconnected and unrecognized?  Or an employee who feels supported, knowledgeable, and empowered?

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 5th, 2008 at 12:08 pm and is filed under managing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

6 comments

 No.1 

I think you’re right that customer service is wrapped up in understanding (and caring about) the mission of an organization. The point of good customer service usually seems to be some variation on making the customer want to return, and if the employee cares about getting return customers then he or she will be more likely to provide them with better service. Of course, there are other reasons why an employee would provide good customer service–they think it will get them a promotion, say, or they just happen to be a nice person. A good manager would probably be able to recognize these traits in their employees and figure out what kinds of incentives they need to provide good c.s. For some it would be helping them to understand the organization’s mission, and for others it might require convincing them that their provision of c.s. will influence their next performance evaluation.

October 5th, 2008 at 3:53 pm
 No.2 
Amanda:

Yes! I think you’re exactly right. Our evaluations of customer service ARE all about our feelings after the experience.

Also, as a former barista, I can attest to the fact that I was at my best, customer service-wise, when I felt like I was listened to, supported, and trusted. I was fortunate to have two great bosses who were very empowering, and that made a huge difference. We had our good weeks and our bad weeks, though, and the times when I felt alienated from the rest of the store, my customer service suffered.

October 5th, 2008 at 7:05 pm
 No.3 
Elizabeth Mitchell:

I agree–it’s easier to provide good customer service if you feel invested in the organization you work for.

And is it too simplistic to say that it’s also easier to provide good service if your customers are pleasant? I regret to say I’ve had experiences when I let my frustration with bad service show, and guess what? The service only got worse. On the other hand, I’ve had times when I stayed patient and pleasant and was rewarded with better effort, even from someone who hadn’t started out very well.

October 5th, 2008 at 8:08 pm
 No.4 
Stephanie:

I completely agree with you Jenn. Would I took the customer service job I am in right now, I don’t think I would have survived had I not the power to work with the customer, to negotiate on terms. I could never have worked at this job for almost a year and a half now if all I was able to do was spout pre-worded jargon that only frustrated the customers more than they already are.

October 5th, 2008 at 8:47 pm
 No.5 
Aaron:

“And one of those tools is empowerment.” yep, totally. and i think part of that empowerment requires TRUST.

October 7th, 2008 at 2:12 pm
 No.6 

I think you’re right that customer service is wrapped up in understanding (and caring about) the mission of an organization. The point of good customer service usually seems to be some variation on making the customer want to return, and if the employee cares about getting return customers then he or she will be more likely to provide them with better service. Of course, there are other reasons why an employee would provide good customer service–they think it will get them a promotion, say, or they just happen to be a nice person. A good manager would probably be able to recognize these traits in their employees and figure out what kinds of incentives they need to provide good c.s. For some it would be helping them to understand the organization’s mission, and for others it might require convincing them that their provision of c.s. will influence their next performance evaluation.

April 23rd, 2010 at 8:18 am