• April 1, 2007
  • By Lior Arussy, founder and president, Strativity Group

The Variance Factor

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The one little secret that most business organizations refuse to spill is that despite all the process optimizations, updated CRM tools, and detailed training, they depend on their employees to exceed expectations. As such, the prospect of an inexperienced employee working with a valued customer is a concern--the employee most likely will not be able to customize a resolution to the customer's specific needs. A sales executive or senior customer service professional should fear, for the most part, having a new employee take a call from the company's most important customers. It's a dreadful scenario for some, because every experienced executive knows that despite the training and motivation provided during the company orientation sessions, there is more to a top performer than the training. It takes experience to delight customers and to respond to their unique needs, crafting a fitting resolution. Most companies face a broad discrepancy between the performance of their best employees and that of their worst. Sales and service executives have to face reality: The variance between the best performers and the least effective performers tampers with business results, so it's a core challenge to improve results, deliver better interactions, respond consistently to customer needs, and exceed customers' expectations. This variance needs to be analyzed and new tools and resolution methods need to be developed. Most of the available customer relationship tools provide background support, but an employee needs to know what to look for and where to find it in the expanding maze of information. With a diverse set of possibilities, chances are that the employee will miss the right resolution or offer for the right customer. It's simply human--at the moment of truth (caring for a customer, who may be growing impatient), employees are left unsupported, trying to find the right resolution amid many choices. The CEO of the company couldn't perform any better than the new hire--execs are only human, too. To optimize business results, sales and service executives must provide proactive tools to intervene and support the employee during the moment of truth with a customer. The information must be immediately customized and delivered so that every employee can deliver the right resolution to the right customer at the right moment. Background support is no longer sufficient to cover some increasingly impatient--even unforgiving--customers. We must alter our tools to actively support employees in real time. These tools must provide them with customized offers to each customer based on his different needs and issues. It is only with such tools that we can reduce the variance factor and trust that at the moment of truth every employee can be a top performer. Lior Arussy is the president of Strativity Group and the author of several books. His latest book is Passionate & Profitable: Why Customer Strategies Fail and 10 Steps to Do Them Right! (John Wiley & Sons, 2005).
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