How to build a customer-focused organisation

 

In an attempt to woo prospective customers, many organisations resort to fancy big-ticket marketing campaigns that seem to offer value one simply can’t refuse. It is not uncommon for prospects to receive the royal “red-carpet”, usually complemented with an elaborate sales pitch of benefits the customer will receive on signing the dotted line.

Once the paperwork is administered, that’s when all “good things come to an end”, as the saying goes. The prospective customer is now known as customer 1234567Z, becoming a mere statistic in the organisation’s vast customer database. Customer 1234567Z threads along his busy daily routine until one fine day when he experiences some dissatisfaction with the product or service that he has paid for. Immediately he rings the organisation for help and clarification only to receive the standard “I’m sorry sir, our company policy does not allow …” or “your payment does not include …” response.

Imagine how one feels as he walks aimlessly in a pitch-dark room and keeps knocking his head against the wall. Due to poor visibility, he does not know if he will ever find his way out of the room. Anxiety, frustration, and disappointment are just some of the emotions a customer goes through when they are uninformed of an organisation’s policy, procedures, rules and regulations. Worse still, if these emotions have resulted from systems or people that are not customer oriented.

Weaving service successfully into daily operations does not occur overnight. For an organisation to reach the “million dollar roundtable” in service, it needs to establish a customer-focused culture that permeates the entire organisation where every employee lives and breathes service in everything they do. A useful acronym that paves the way for an organisation that endeavors in building a service culture is M-I-N-D-S-E-T.

 1.    MAKE SERVICE A STRATEGY

Identify the value proposition that you wish to offer to your customers, then, weave it as part of the organisation’s service strategy. For example, the value proposition that amazon.com puts forward to her customers is the hassle-free ordering process (you order the book and we’ll do the rest). The key is to be unique and exclusive enough to make the customer notice.

2.    INTERNALISE THE MESSAGE OF SERVICE

Everyone knows that providing good service to the customer is important. But, how many of your staff truly believe that they have to do what it takes to provide excellent, unbelievable, legendary, fabled service to each valuable customer that walks through the door?

Internalizing the service message means that each and every key staff embraces service as a way of life. One strategy would be to align key employee processes to service quality. For example, the moment an employee joins the organisation, a customer-focused mindset should be instilled by emphasising service concepts during the induction, orientation, on-the-job coaching as well as through built-in rewards and recognition systems.

 3.     NEW WAY OF WORKING

Look at your processes from the customers’ perspective i.e walk the path of your customer. Identify any “irritating” processes that disgruntled car owners are required to park their vehicle and wait patiently while the attendant attempts hurriedly to pump fuel. The owner then must proceed to the cashier to make payment. Mobil’s card minimises hassle. Make it a point, to understand why they are unhappy and modify these processes to meet and exceed their expectations.

The new Mobil Fuel Card is an excellent example. Traditionally, by simply installing a device to the rear of the vehicle, the driver parks the vehicle, fills up petrol and drives off. He is billed at a later stage for the fill-up: No queues, no hassle, no unnecessary waits at the counter, not to mention improved efficiency at the petrol kiosk.

4.    DELIGHT CUSTOMERS EVERY  TIME 

Although it isn’t guaranteed that a delighted customer will continue to patronise the organisation indefinitely, the likelihood that a delighted customer continues to support the organisation is indeed high. Seize every opportunity as a golden opportunity to display how much you care for your customer, and they will reciprocate by more ways than the organisation will ever know.

5.    SEEK TO CONTINUALLY IMPROVE

Organisations that continue to remain at the forefront of service excellence look at change as an opportunity to “wow” customers. Identify redundancies and challenge the current way of performing present tasks. Winners in the service quality arena constantly strive to overcome new frontiers by constantly reviewing and revamping their service delivery function.

 6.    EMPOWER STAFF 

Ensure that your staff is empowered to make decisions. There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than when he is told that he cannot have assisted him because the boss is unavailable, and the employee does not have the authority to make such decisions. Rising customer expectations coupled with the need to get things done by “yesterday” makes it important for management to consider greater empowerment for their staff.

7.    TRAIN – TRAIN & TRAIN 

Customer service training should begin with the top rung of the organisation, then cascaded down to the rest of the employees. Senior management must not only develop an appreciation for service at strategic and operational levels, but also fully support all efforts made in developing a service culture. There is no greater encouragement for an employee than to see the big bosses practicing what they preach.

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, developing a service culture requires commitment, patience and a most importantly a service M-I-N-D-S-E-T.

 

5 Quick Ways to Build a Coaching Culture

Do you have a team of individuals where the stellar performance of a few is carrying the weight of the under-par performers? You had tried everything from incentivising them to giving them ultimatums but nothing seemed to work. Unfortunately, the option of letting them go often prove to be not viable since it will inevitably impose a heavier load on the rest of the team.

To effectively tap on the power of coaching and to optimise the performance of every employee, every team needs to establish a structured approach towards coaching.

Here are 5 quick steps that you can take.

1.  Establish a coaching plan that spells out who will be a coached, when they will be coached and the outcomes/goals of each coaching session.

2. Monitor the performance of a coachee in the days/weeks that follow to ensure that the coachee is demonstrating the requisite competencies. Be quick to give constructive feedback and avoid words like “for the zillionth time, I have highlighted …”

3. Schedule regular meet-ups where coaches can share with each other their experiences. What worked for them? What were some challenges for them? How did they overcome these difficulties?

4. Consolidate the benefits/outcomes that were derived as a result of coaching. This could include increased sales performance, higher employee morale, and achievement of other organisational goals.

5. Equip yourself and your team with the skills and know-how of being a coach. Join our Public Seminar on “Optimising Performance through Coaching” happening on 10 and 11 May 2018, 9 am to 6 pm. Register now.

3 Key Strategies to Engage Millennials

“Job Hoppers”, “Individualists” and “Entitled” are just some of the terms used when describing Millennials. While there isn’t a universally accepted definition, “Millennials” are defined as those who were born between early 1980s and early 2000s.  These are also known as the Generation Y.

Millennials’ expectations are very much different from that of the previous generations (e.g. Gen X and Baby Boomers).  This generation is born into small families with dual-income parents.  With more disposable income and lack of time for them, their parents tend to shower them with love and attention.  The Millennials tend to be given whatever they ask for.  This explains the need for instant gratification.  They are born in the era of “internet and mobile phone”.  Thus, they are “connected” to the internet world, and their fingers are constantly “glued” to their mobile phones.

Workwise, they do not perceive work as a 9-to-5 job but one that is fun, flexible and provides fulfillment in their lives. However, that does not mean that they do not take pride in their work or are not committed to their work.  Millennials are also viewed as a power-hungry.  They expect to climb the corporate ladder quickly with multiple salary increments along the way. To many, this is an unrealistic goal; to the Millennials, that’s how things are supposed to be.

Our empirical research shows that staff attrition rates in an organisation are highly correlated with key engagement indicators such as the “competency of supervisors”, “work processes” and “staff welfare”, regardless of age. Compared with the Baby Boomers and Gen X, the Millennials value “welfare” more and are not afraid to speak up for their “rights”.

Though the Millennials are different from the earlier generations, they have the strengths and for the future leadership team of every organisation.  It is thus important for employers to challenge existing paradigms to retain these employees and harness their strengths.  Here are some useful tips:

1. Aim for Work-life Harmony

The key word is “harmony” rather than “balance”.  “Balance” gives the impression that we need to have a 50-50 split between work and life.  The question is whether it is possible to create such a balance.  Instead, aim for work-life harmony.  This means that when the Millennials are at work, they should be happy and contented, without having to worry about home or kids.  They shouldn’t have to ask themselves the question “What’s the meaning of life?” while they are at work.

As their leaders, try to know the Millennials better on a personal note. Find out what they value in life, whom they treasure most, what they want out of life and the “non-negotiables” in life.  Then, avoid situations when they are “forced” to make a compromise on these things that they value for work.  For example, if the millennial values “family”, ensure that she takes her leave to attend the parent-teacher meeting at her child’s school.  Do not ask her to cancel the leave application to attend to “urgent” matters at work.

2. Leverage on Their Tech-savviness

Millennials will likely be familiar with more than 10 social apps, could have a blog or website, use smartphones.  “Technology” is their middle name.  Without a laptop in front of them, they have issues “thinking” and “writing”.  At least 90% of the communication is via emails or text messages instead of speaking over the phone.  For them, the key factor in selecting a hotel is “internet access”.

Harness on this strength by giving them tasks that require them to tap into it.  Then, they would likely gain a greater sense of satisfaction in everything they do.  To help improve work efficiency, enlist their help to search for apps that could improve productivity.  Use the mobile phone to complement face-to-face communication (e.g. create chat groups, send videos or photos using mobile phones to enhance understanding).  For coaching purposes, search for information on the internet and send useful ones to team members.

3. Create a Fun Working Environment

Baby Boomers and Gen X tend to take their work very seriously and expect the Millennials to do so too.  When we create a workplace where there is loads of positive energy, smiles, and enjoyment, Millennials feel compelled to share with their friends and family how wonderful their work environment is. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy since the act of sharing this information attests to the fact that it is a great work environment

How could one create FUN at work?

  • Think of ways to create friendship rather than to maintain a professional working relationship. (Examples – Go for drinks together, organise team bonding activities, etc.
  • Create an environment that’s fun! (Examples – Provide a “chill-out” place where the team can gather or encourage people decorate their workstations in a way that will cheer them up.)

While the demographics of your workforce will continue to change, what separates good organisations from great ones is the ability to adapt to the changing needs of employees. Beacon can help your company understand and manage Millennials better through our proprietary solution – TrueInsights ©. Find out more at www.beacon.com.sg or call us at 6873 9768.

Build an Engaged Workforce

An Engaged Workforce
An Engaged Workforce

Every morning, as I walk towards the office, I am greeted by a warm, energetic, enthusiastic security officer – “Good Morning! Had your breakfast?”  He then follows up with two thumbs-up and a compliment about my dressing, my briefcase, etc.  This gets better – He engages in a similar conversation with each of my 40 colleagues every single morning.  Each person who interacts with him walks away with a smile.

Why would an individual engage with every customer in this manner?  What makes a person driven towards excellence in whatever he/she does?  How does an organisation transform its workforce to become more connected towards achieving organisational goals?

The answer lies in the words “Engaged Employee”.

3 Types of Employees at the Workplace

To this very day, many people tend to use the term “employee engagement” and “employee satisfaction” interchangeably.  However, in reality, employee engagement bears a deeper significance to an organisation’s productivity levels and meeting organisational objectives.

Our research shows that there are typically three “types” of employees at the workplace – Disengaged, In-transit, and Actively Engaged.

The Disengaged:

Simply put, disengaged employees are individuals who have “resigned”  years ago but did not formally inform HR about their intentions.  These are employees who are seemingly busy doing many things but no one in the organisation has any clue what this person is busy with!  Worst still, disengaged employees typically undermine the efforts of engaged employees.

The “In-transit”

These are individuals who typically form the clear majority of employees in an organisation, are able to perform their tasks relatively well, but only contribute to the extent required to keep their jobs.  “In-transit” employees are at “high-risk” since they can be easily influenced by recruitment campaigns undertaken by the “Disengaged” camp.

The “Actively Engaged”

Individuals who are aligned to the objectives of the organisation, contribute positively to the work environment, treat colleagues as family, and feel that their contributions shape the future of the organization.   Engaged employees are more productive, contented and likely to demonstrate loyalty.

How do we grow the Actively Engaged cohort?

1.   Surround the In-transit with Actively Engaged

Behavioural Research undertaken on Social Influence shows that individuals tend to conform to the others who form the majority.  In other words, by placing an “in-transit” employee in the presence of several “Actively Engaged” employees, there is high likelihood that the “in-transit” employee will start thinking, behaving and speaking just as the “actively engaged”.

2.  Convert the Disengaged

There is a tendency for many organisations to write-off disengaged employees.  However, disengaged employees offer the largest untapped potential for organisations to improve its performance and profitability.  Probably the easiest and quickest way to get them onboard is to identify a project / task that they have expressed an interest.  It could even be a hobby that can be translated to something of value to the organization.  The key is to be able to weave this interest into the workplace and make them responsible for it.  In other words, there is a need to identify what makes these individuals tick and light that fire.

3. Recruit Right!

Sometimes, the best way of building an engaged culture is by ensuring that the right individuals are hired.  During the interview process, look out for signs of engagement!  Ask questions such as “how do you keep yourself motivated?”, “outside your immediate job scope, how else have you contributed to your organisation”, “do you have a friend at work that you call family?”

For most of our clients, building a culture of Engaged Employees takes years.  Through perseverance, organisations that have built a strong contingent of engaged employees have consistently outperformed best-in-class time and again.

Need some advice? Give us a holler!  The team at Beacon Consulting would love to hear from you.