Five methods to link employees' own work satisfaction to customer satisfaction.
Posted Aug 9, 2004
One of the most important aspects to realize in a CRM initiative is the impact of change that needs to be managed for the initiative to be successful. Change with respect to people can be very unsettling. It is not a linear process that clearly defined polices and procedures that can move forward. Even with the first round of seemingly effective change, the initiative can crash if the people orientation is not managed continuously. This requires a strategy for ongoing motivation.
The strategy is to reenergize the people involved in the CRM initiative. This is not a sequential exercise that needs to be addressed after the implementation of processes and technology. On the contrary, this is one of the first things that needs attention. Changing people's attitude requires time, and continuous input and feedback.
So what are the ways that a company can continuously reenergize its staff?
The simplest strategy is to show the benefits of customer orientation to the front-office staff. "What is in it for me?" is a common base question that arises in all personnel issues. Tying customer-orientation to tangible benefits for employees is a good way to start. This could include ways of evaluating performance with new variables like customer satisfaction or even number of customer problems solved, etc. Many companies get into the mode of defining these variables as a part of key performance indicators (KPIs) for employee reward systems.
A longer-term strategy is to move from being reward-driven to being "customer pulled." This is the evolution of people to become self-driven customer engagement practitioners--a situation that involves the employees themselves evolving, and improving their customer handling skills, not for tangible benefits, but because they understand that customer empathy and their own work satisfaction is linked to customer satisfaction.
So how do we begin this change? Can it happen with traditional organizational thinking? Yes. Here are some methods to start the change process:
Set a charter--Communicate to the employees the expectation and the end-customer "experience" desired by the organization. This communication is a formal kick off in setting the personnel expectations on what they are supposed to do and how that contributes to the company philosophy.
Train--Derive training needs based on the desired results. Have the employees attend customer management training. Target the training on dealing with people issues and building interpersonal relationships with the customers, rather than on the product push or pull. This is an area that significantly improves CRM initiatives. In short, focus on customer empathy.
Restructure reward--Once the practice is set in motion with the training, get the reward system restructured to be more oriented to relationships. Don't just award performance based on hard metrics--include soft measurement variables like the number of client relationship attempts made or compliments from customers, etc. This adds a tangible virtue to the seemingly invisible soft skill initiatives.
Empower--Make people responsible for relationships. Allow front-office staff to make decisions that help them get a feeling that managing and sustaining a customer relationship is within their control. Stringent reporting systems and procedures can lead to a lack of ownership that could be best avoided by giving accountability with responsibility.
Gauge and repeat--Set mutually decided goals on customer satisfaction and attitudinal change. Monitor and gauge frequently. Get back to training if required. But most important, lead by example in real scenarios.
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