We here at Skills Exchange Towers have spent 50% of this year delivering Customer Service training at many levels and helping companies put their Customer Service Charter together and training ALL of their staff. (Yes, all. Everyone is in customer service.) Whilst customer service is mostly common sense we do find that it still isn’t common practise.
When you give people responsibility, more often than not, they step up
However, we have also watched the Olympics and we spotted a customer service link between our hockey team, the American military and Timpson’s the shoe repairers.
Intrigued now, aren’t you?
Fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq between 2005-2008, General Stanley A. McChrystal realised that the speed of technology had changed the hierarchy of decision making, not something that normally goes down well in a historically hierarchical environment.
However, he made the change. He gave troops on the ground a high level of responsibility and, despite initial fears, it all worked. As he said “When you give people responsibility, more often than not, they step up”.
To use his words, he realised that the role of a senior leader was no longer that of a puppet master but that of a “crafter of culture”.
Like John Timpson, founder of Timpson’s. If you haven’t heard him on Desert Island Discs I commend it to you (though his song choice is a little naff). On the programme he talks about employing ex-prisoners, how he simply asks people to “turn up on time, look the part and don’t put your hand in the till” and how the company is totally focused on the customer.
And the key to a successful business (one that is flourishing, a rare example in retail at the moment)? How he tells people to deal with customer service issues. There are no rules, no methods, just simply if it isn’t going to cost more than £500 to put it right then put it right, there and then. As he points out, this has saved him “millions” and made him more through good customer word of mouth and loyalty.
As with the General, Timpson found that if you give people responsibility and they normally respond.
Like our Olympians.
The hockey gold was won by individual and team effort, of course, but it’s interesting to see what came behind it.
The coach, Danny Kerry, like the other examples above, wasn’t scared to delegate. So, the team chose the captain democratically, they chose when to train, they came up with the written rules of behaviour and behaviours for the team. Which may sound like abdication but it isn’t (as it was handled correctly) and, guess what, we won gold.
As the coach pointed out, “If you give people responsibility, if you bring them into the decision-making, they take ownership. They become more committed.” Compare that to the England football team!
And this links into where we started and customer service.
We have been doing a major project on First Impressions for professional firms (starting with a series of mystery calls and re-structuring their Customer Process when required plus educating staff) and let’s just say that the scores aren’t that high. There is a lot to learn. Or is there?
A recent survey (how I love that as a starting line) on customer satisfaction shows that, in reality, people just want the simple things.
- KEEP YOUR PROMISES
- DEAL WITH ME QUICKLY
- HANDLE MY COMPLAINT FAIRLY
- UNDERSTAND MY POSITION
- DON’T SHOW ME ATTITUDE
- GET AN OUTCOME
- MAKE IT EASY TO DEAL WITH YOU
Ah, the rule of seven!
And all of these are down to individuals, individuals whose performance may just be moulded by the way they are treated? All of the above can be handled on the ground and should be. No more “I’ll ask my boss” with all the lack of enthusiasm that suggests.
Go on, give them the responsibility and see how your performance, profits and ratings improve.