“The customer is always right.” You’ve probably heard that a million times. But let’s talk about what happens when the employee is right, and how your company can benefit from listening to its frontline employees.
A Frontline Perspective
While it’s important to listen to your customers and their experiences, they only see one piece of the puzzle. Your employees can provide extra insight into customer service from a different viewpoint. That’s a lot more valuable information about how the customer experience works as a whole rather than a single anecdotal experience.
Consider who manages the customer experience within your company. How much face time do they have with customers? How in-touch are they with the target market? To whom do they consult for information? Your employees are the face of the company. They’re the ones who bridge the gap between the behind-the-scenes operations and the customer experience. They are the voice of authority when it comes to how the business practices meet the needs of the customers.
Make it Easy for Employees to be Heard
All of this valuable insight is for naught, however, if your employees fear repercussions for sharing bad experiences. They will never give constructive feedback on ways you can improve if they fear retribution. Similarly, if your employees don’t see their suggestions ever being implemented, they will stop sharing. To combat this, you must create an open system that is easy to use, offers support for the employees, and acknowledges those who speak up. To do this, from the outset, invite your employees to share experiences that went well or to share problems they see in how they are required to handle certain aspects of the customer experience.
One way to create an open share policy is to hang a large flow-chart of the processes and policies in the breakroom or some other place only employees will see it. Make it dry-erase safe, or keep a stack of sticky notes next to the chart, and allow employees to place suggestions over policies or procedures they would change or improve. Have employees initial next to those policies they agree with. Hold a “town hall” meeting and discuss these suggestions. If a certain suggestion has become prominent and it’s decided a significant change should be made, invite the employee who offered the idea to meet with the decision-makers to provide the best detail and insight into the changes they would make.
When it’s not practical or feasible to implement a suggestion or improvement, be transparent with your employees so they don’t assume they were overlooked or ignored. Explain to them why their suggestions couldn’t be put into action at that time or at all. Discuss other options or how employees can better navigate the circumstances as they combat the problem.
Don’t waste the valuable knowledge your employees are gaining as they interact with customers. You must show them that you value their feedback. When your employees are truly made a part of the company’s decision-making, they will feel valued. If employees feel empowered to speak up about problems and improvements, not only will you see an improvement in the customer experience, but in your employees’ attitude toward work in general. When your employees are truly invested in their work because they know what they do matters and that it will be acknowledged, there is more motivation to work hard and have a positive impact on the customers.
Encouraging your employees to learn about and take control of providing a positive customer experience also opens the door to upward mobility for them. Consider employees who take the feedback program seriously and who appear to be genuinely interested in the care of the customers and in the efficiency and success of the company. As employees make valuable suggestions and implement improvements, reward them and make it known that open positions will be filled by those who show a vested interest in the well-being of both the customer and company.
Start prioritizing the voice of employees in your company and you will see a change in company culture. You will also see the customer experience improve and will observe other improvements trickle throughout all aspects of the company.
About the Author:
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer who’s committed to helping businesses and sales professionals build stronger connections with their customers. In her spare time, she enjoys learning more about InMoment.com—her CX platform of choice, reading books/articles on industry news, engaging on twitter(@BrookeChaplan), and exploring her local neighborhood hiking trails.