We wrote about the importance of customer service on two occasions; one, to discuss the desired characteristics of a customer service officer in today’s self-service environment in April and how it will impact hiring decision.
Second, a brief note in our September article on the feedback from readers and practitioners
and the importance of training.
This month we will feature another article on customer service that supports the views of the previous articles. In particular, the importance of "…teaching employees to find imaginative answers to service problems…"
The article can be found in January / February 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review on page 20 to 22. This is a short excellent read for both HR practitioners and line managers of customer service department.
The key observation of this article, which is supported by research and data by a team led by Jagdip Singh of Case Western Reserve, is as follows:
Employees who show empathy or appear bright and cheerful when solving customer’s problems did a poor job in satisfying customers.
Instead, the results showed that employees that offer a variety of solutions even if the outcome is not desirable scored the best in customer satisfaction.
The solutions to the ever-increasing issues of customer service. Therefore, is to train employees to offer imaginative answers to service problems. The important thing is the journey to offering the solution and not necessarily the outcome by itself.
The key is to generate options for the customer, sorry is not enough in this case and will have the opposite effect.
We would like to add in another perspective to this issue. That is, how do we motivate and
engage your employees?
Our solution will be to offer clear performance indicators to employees; this includes making sure customer service employees offer options to customers for each case and take control of the situation.
Once employees consistently meet the indicators we suggest rewards on a quarterly basis to motivate and recognise efforts and performances.
In this way, we are taking small steps towards improving a long and difficult situation in many service driven companies.