Train Team Members to Know their Effects on Customers
In most businesses, the front-line employee typically gets the recognition and glory. They are also the ones who immediately see the impact they have on customers. However, for those we refer to as invisible service providers, e.g., support teams, admins, receptionists, contact center, warehouse, and back office, are rarely praised for the part they play in the customer experience. Yet for the highest levels of employee engagement and job satisfaction, it’s crucial that business leaders inspire every team member to understand how their job impacts customers’ lives.
Think about it: A receptionist is like an offensive lineman. The only time their name gets called in a game is when they’ve screwed up. The dozens of times they played their position excellently went unnoticed while everyone else received the recognition.
Regardless of their position, every human being wants to know their hard work is contributing toward something impactful that goes beyond business outcomes. Ignoring this is one of the biggest mistakes companies make. All employees tend to thrive on meaningful feedback, sometimes even more than monetary rewards, and their dedication (or lack thereof) strongly impacts the overall quality of customer experience and company reputation.
“People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of something they are proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, that they trust,” said Howard Schultz, former President and CEO of Starbucks. Clearly, the feeling of making a difference is a key part of a positive work culture.
The Secret of Service
I have worked with all types of companies from all types of industries, but probably no phone call ever surprised me more than when I received a call from A-T Solutions, headquartered in Fredericksburg, Virginia. A-T stands for “anti-terrorism” training and consulting. I was positive that this company, run by ex-military personnel, mistook the title of my first book, Secret Service.
However, I soon realized that the owner, Ken Falke, was well aware of what my version of Secret Service was and was very serious about making A-T Solutions a world-class customer service organization. One of my projects was to help tie all their departments together and demonstrate how all people across the entire organization contributed to the overall purpose and upheld the core values of the company.
During one of my workshops, I showed a picture of an A-T Solutions trainer conducting a typical training program with military personnel. I then flashed to a picture of a soldier in Afghanistan. Next, I showed a picture of a soldier stepping off a plane, being greeted by his wife and 9-month-old son, whom he had never met before. Finally, I followed that photo with a family vacationing on a beach somewhere. A-T Solutions doesn’t “sell” anti-terrorist training. As a result of what they provide, soldiers come home safely to their families, and Americans travel safely together without a second thought of danger or fear. And now, despite limited customer interaction, the receptionist can be proud because she sees the part she plays in the underlying purpose of what A-T Solutions provides.
In his book Built to Serve, Dan Sanders shared a great example of this. Medtronic is a leader in medical technology, manufacturing prosthetic valves for use in hearts. Shift workers spend long hours on assembly lines producing these valves. Medtronic employees did not see themselves as producing heart valves. Their approach to quality, metaphorically speaking, included putting their own hearts into their work.
Medtronic holds an annual event where employees can meet patients who are alive because of transplanted artificial hearts containing Medtronic technology. Patients share stories with employees about the experiences they enjoyed because of the attention to detail these employees had for their jobs. It is a remarkable illustration of a company applying emotional intelligence to its organizational goals in a way that will directly affect customer care. Such interactions with customers result in focused and fulfilled employees as company values become team values.
John R. DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or email@example.com.
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