For many years, there has been a stranglehold of the “Profits over People” mentality in business. Senior executives care about top-line revenue, market share, the stock price, bottom-line profits, and even their competitors, more than their people. Listening to the sweet cha-ching sound of profits, these bad bosses do not hear their grumbling employees and complaining customers many hierarchical rungs below. Even if bosses could hear, they would wear noise-canceling headphones, oblivious to the employees’ concerns and customer complaints. And “Profits over People” bad bosses would demand “My way or the highway” to the employees. Bad bosses didn’t care much about employees and employees could care less about their bosses or customers.
Today, instead of focusing on “Profits over People”, envision “People First” as the solid foundation for everlasting business success. One caveat is “Employees First”. Managers will always see people as “employees”. Despite preaching “Employees First”, senior leaders would always have the rank and file employees “first”, on the bottom of the ladder, well below the leaders.
Recognizing “People First”, leaders will CARE for their people.
COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any information that their people need to know. Listen empathetically to the people’s suggestions, concerns, and complaints. Express compassion with their recommendations and encouragement.
APPRECIATE the important roles, responsibilities, and efforts of their people.
RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for individual and team achievements, accomplishments, and acts of service to colleagues or customers.
EMPOWER people to make the right decisions for themselves, their colleagues, customers, and their business.
Whether it’s the turmoil of the pandemic, Skimpflation, or The Great Resignation, businesses will invigorate the New Normal with the “People First” culture. No longer are people taking second or third seats to customers or profits.
This cultural transformation of “People First” and the leadership commitment to CARE will enthuse and energize people to be engaged with their colleagues, customers, and the business.
When we create a great experience for people as much as we do for customers, we will earn the loyalty of both. And soon, without our focus on profits, profits will grow.
Your most important assets are not your customers and your employees. It’s how your customers and your employees feel about your company. Your success as a customer service manager is directly proportional to your ability to drive simultaneously customer satisfaction and employee engagement. Happy employees are inclined to go above and beyond for your customers. And when your customers feel they are cared for, they will return. You can’t satisfy customers with disengaged employees. Start there first. So what can you do to ensure your employees are engaged? As a first step, begin by asking at least one employee these two questions every day:
What are you hearing? You cannot even begin to satisfy customers until you remove all the potential dissatisfiers within the customer experience. The American Customer Satisfaction Index found that the response rates for electronic surveys were averaging between 5% and 15% . So if surveys are your only source of feedback, then at the most, you personally know 15% of all your customers’ angst. If you are interacting with customers while you supervise employees, you may know between 20 – 50% of your customers’ dissatisfiers. But your employees know 100% of your customers complaints and concerns because your customers tell them everyday. So find out what they are hearing and act to systematically remove any potential dissatisfiers.
What can I do for you? Jan Carlzon, former CEO of SAS Airlines and author of the book, Moments of Truth said, “If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” To serve the customer, your employees need the empowerment, tools and resources to take care of their customers. Without the tools and resources, they will not feel empowered to solve customer complaints or respond to customer questions. As much as you want your employees to fulfill your customers’ needs, you need to serve your employees to fulfill theirs. So at the end of every employee conversation, whether it is a group setting or a one-to-one conversation, ask, “What can I do for you?” Listen and then act on their suggestions. Seriously weigh every suggestion, no matter how small you might think it might be. If they mentioned it to you, it is a BIG DEAL to them. Otherwise they wouldn’t have said anything. And if it’s a BIG DEAL to them, it should be a BIG DEAL to you. Whether you are able to implement their suggestion or not, always personally get back promptly to the individual employee who offered the suggestion. It will reinforce their perception that you are committed to their success, as much as you are to your customers’ satisfaction.
QUI TAKEAWAY: The biggest complaint from employees of their managers and supervisors is a lack of communication. Ask these two questions every day to generate a flow of ideas to continually improve the employee and customer experience. Then act on the feedback you receive to drive engagement and empower your employees to deliver exceptional service that your customers will rave about to you and others.