Coaching: Every employee reflects on the company

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:45 pm

Recently, it was my privilege to speak to the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce, a group of savvy energetic business people. The meeting planners asked that my remarks focus on strategies for organizational success. Tall order.

At any rate, I began by reminding them of that old truth we all know: there is no standing still. We’re either moving forward or backward. Like every cell in our bodies, our companies are either growing or decaying. If we get stuck in a stall, whether tied to complacency or cockiness – or fear of taking a creative leap – most everyone else will move ahead and leave our organizations in the dust.

If there is one piece of organizational life that stands out as the key to moving your business forward it is stellar customer service. Customer service must be a vital part of everyone’s job. I believe every single employee must have contact with customers as part of their initial training, and part of ongoing service to the organization. The farther away an employee is from customer contact, perhaps because of her job description, the more your attention needs to be given to ramping up that contact.. 

Our organizations are only there for the customer. That’s easy to forget if you’re buried in financial reports, or spending three months trying to figure out which health insurance plan is right for your company. It’s easy to forget if you’re in a twitch of anxiety about pleasing upper management or the board of directors.

I advocate using creative measures to bring employees and customers close.  Someone in the shipping department can learn to facilitate customer-satisfaction focus groups. Receptionists can design and distribute surveys to customers about their telephone (and email) experiences with your organization. Then the same receptionists can compile and report the results. We need as much feedback as we can get from customers and making this a part of every job in the place can be revealing and energizing.

We usually start out sure that we have the best product or service for our customers, that we’re unique and just as soon as people hear about us we’ll be swamped with orders. Even if that plays out to our expectations, the needs and desires of those customers will change, of course. We’re a fast-moving bunch of consumers on this planet. Business success demands that we keep eyes and ears on the trends, the “What’s Next?” question and have ongoing conversations with a wide range of customers.

There is a lot of evidence that customers like being closer to your operation.  You’ve seen the evidence in the number of organizations that form associations and clubs for customers. Customers, like all other human beings, want to be appreciated when they offer their opinions. They want to know if it made any difference. They want to see the results of any survey, focus group or the like – and deservedly so!

Systematic and organization-wide focus on the customer can be the beginning of that buzz that is so precious and key to growth. Think of your own experience as a customer: when you’ve been on the receiving end of stellar service don’t you remember it forever and rave about it to your friends? When the opposite occurs, don’t you grumble about it to everyone? Customers who are very satisfied are 20 percent more likely to do repeat business with you than customers who are merely satisfied. And they will gladly pay more for service that leaves them very satisfied.

As the leader of your organization, your vision is about going somewhere that you – let’s hope – see very clearly. You have also clarified your values, so you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there, the priorities of your culture. It is your daily, if not hourly, job to enroll others in that vision and those shared values. What is more important than inspiring everyone in your organization  into a compelling desire to give the best possible brand of service to your current and potential customers?

Going to your office every morning with this mental set is a gift to everyone.   Feeling good about how we make money is attractive to all but the most hardened human beings. If people are empowered to focus on outrageous customer service, and are rewarded for that focus, the better you and your business will be.

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