The key to increased sales is providing a great customer experience, and the key to a great customer experience is staff autonomy.
According to Dominic Kitchin from the Science of Buying (www.thescienceofbuying.com), the reason people don’t want to do business with organisations that aren’t customer focused is because it’s so difficult to do business with them!
It’s has been scientifically proven, by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (http://www.princeton.edu/~napl/pdf/BeckKastner2008.pdf), that the brain hates clutter and complexity. You have to make it simple for customers to do business with you. Make it easy and not only will they do business with you but they’ll also recommend their family and friends to you; that is how you increase profits and encourage more people to buy your services.
An example of this is Radisson Blu Hotels. Their ‘Yes I Can!’ policy for the staff ensures that all front line staff are given the autonomy to give a 100% positive experience to their guests. (http://www.radissonblu.co.uk/meetings/service-concepts/yes-i-can)
It’s important to put policies and procedures in place for your employees to deliver great customer experience.
For example, let’s look at invoicing. By using an online invoicing/book keeping system and giving the relevant people within the team access to certain areas of the system, they can easily see if an invoice has been paid. So if a customer calls, they can access the necessary information, feedback to the customer, and even re-send the invoice if necessary.
This improves the experience for the customer because you are waiting for them to see if they’ve received it – and taking the necessary action if they don’t. It also works well for the company using the system as it saves time, and makes it easier for the staff to complete their work.
Employee empowerment and autonomy is vital if you want to ensure customer experiences are delivered at a high level.
Many SME’s do not think about the policies and procedures that have been created and how they impact on the customer, and many do not take time to check if there is anything that is causing a negative experience.
And it’s not just the customers you are upsetting, in my experience employees are also frustrated by this. They feel they have no control over the policy but nevertheless are left dealing with the fall-out from customers who are unhappy about their experience.
Your employees are your most valuable asset. Not only can they help you grow your business by giving customers a great experience that leads to referrals and recommendations, they also often have firsthand experience in dealing with customer enquiries; so they know what works and what doesn’t, and they know where the ‘problems’ are that can negatively impact upon their ability to deliver great customer care.
So take a look at your policies and procedures – do they help or hinder the customer experience? Ask you employees for their feedback. Actively encourage front-line staff to tell you about their own experiences of dealing with customers and ask them how it can be improved. And most of all, give them autonomy to make the decisions needed to deliver a positively memorable customer experience.