Category Archives: Customer Service
Imagine if you will a hospital that spent more time and money training their C-suite than their direct-care staff of doctors and nurses. Or a large airlines spending most of their training budget on the executive staff and very little on the pilots, flight crew, or mechanics.
The resulting scenraiors wold prove to be short-sighted and troublesome. And yet it seems that the average company spends more on training for upper level versus line-level or front-line employees.
A survey of average company training budgets will reveal that a typical company will spend from 2-5% of annual revenues on training.
The Association for Talent Development in their annual state of the industry report from last year revealed that the average company spent $1273 per employee in 2017.
Couple that with Training Mag’s study of “per-learner training” from the same period and you’ll see that most of the $1000-plus spending per-learner was done on the C-suite level, then less for mid-level management and the least individual employees. The exception seemed to be for “high potential” employees.
If you take these statistics and see the ongoing (10 + years) trend in worsening customer service experiences, one can draw a conclusion that more training needs to be invested on the front line staff in order to reverse this trend. And while some of this is related to the rapid education of the customer and the tight labor market, there is still one thing any company can do to provide a better customer experience.
Spend more time training your front line staff than you do anyone else.
About 15 years ago a restaurant chain claimed to spend more money than the industry on training was found to have actually shortchanged their line staff and spent more resources on opening more and more units. This eventually led to their bankruptcy just a few years later.
A couple of independent and different healthcare organizations were both afflicted with the same fate in the last few years. Instead of managing resources to the employees in the way of training, they diverted those monies to the top of the organization. As a result, patient care and satisfaction tanked, employees left, and both are facing various regulatory issues as they struggle to be in compliance.
While training and development of all levels of staff are essential, the expenses of major conferences at higher levels can tend to be very expensive without much ROI and direct customer impact. But a more focused training on front-line staff will reap higher returns and boost your levels of customer satisfaction. It’s a model that Chick-Fil-A uses to their advantage in their huge growth over the least decade. Same for Bonobos, whose goal is to help their workers become better employees and equip them with skills needed to do their jobs. CyberCoders and Paychex also have made committed goals to go all in on training their employees and their cultures and recruiting efforts reflect this quite positively.
What is being advocated here is the mindset to pour better and more focused resources – proportionately – into those employees who face your customers and have the most touchpoints with them. In a shifting economy and sliding landscape of digital and analaog business, being able to spend your resources on front-line training is essential for a company to stand out. In order to combat evolving business models, tight staffing, and increasing customer expectations, you need to up your game to invest in more training for your employees who most come in contact with your customers.
Determine today to build a better company and go all in on employee training.
The best companies know that the reasons to spend more on training are worth every cent.
(per-learner image: brandonhallgroup; main image: pixabay)
I made a quick trip into a well-known retailer this week and was appalled at what transpired immediately when I entered.
One manager, walking towards me, looked right at me and kept walking. A second manager, just past this first, looked at me as I made eye contact with him, stared at me for about 2 seconds, then promptly turned and walked away.
No greeting. No “Hello, Welcome to…”. No focus on the customer experience at all.
If one of their competitors, small business or large, decided to up their game and greet their customers at the door and ensure even a small level of engagement throughout the store, they would put this established location out of business.
Customers want to feel acknowledged. It’s the basic tenet in many studies of behavior. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs addresses this in both the Belonging and Esteem levels. Hyrum Smith, of Franklin Planner fame, expresses this in the Needs Wheel of The Reality Model.
And yet many many leaders fail to model this basic behavior.
That’s why even a little focus on the customer experience will enable an organization to crush it and create raving fans.
When the focus is on either the bottom line, getting the job done, or surviving through the day, your customers feel it and are likewise impacted. Even elderly people with dementia or diminished senses in a nursing home sense when they are treated poorly or ignored.
Making your customers and those you cater to feel engaged always makes the difference.
If you want your leadership and your organization to stand out, and to crush it in a day where customer experience is largely lacking, then make them feel special and create even the smallest of differences in their experience.
Because that’s what you want when you are a customer. It’s one of our basic needs.
Companies have a funny way of justifying that they are better than what their customers say they are.
If you think that’s off the mark, check out the online reviews of companies and see their responses back to the customers. Or any public statement when it comes to an incident such as a recall, injury, or other negative issue the company is involved in.
These answers vary but all have the same root political spin to them. At the core of their responses, the infamous line usually appears:
We pride ourselves in delivering the best experience to our customers.
And that is also coupled with another phrase touting the company’s (relative) success up until that point:
We have had thousands of satisfied customers…; We have succeeded in the indsutry by…:
And quite frankly, responses like these are lame, pathetic, and serve no good to that customer or any other customer.
All a customer simply wants is their needs and expectations met or exceeded.
Your success does nothing for the customer with a complaint.
I have seen many companies and individuals offer excuses for delivering on poor service. The following are some actual responses from these organizations and professionals:
- Away taking awards trips (and focusing on self rather than making sure customers are tended to)
- Busy in meetings all day (customer feels they are not the prioirty)
- We’ve made xxx amount of money in the last year (that is not helping the cusotmer today)
- We just landed a major account (and ignoring the smaller accounts)
- We’re crazy busy around here (showing you’re disorganized and can’t control your business)
- We’ve never had a problem before (totally irrelevant to the situation)
If the customer cannot feel connected to you, then you are not a success in their eyes. They are the only ones that truly matter and failure to take action to meet their expectations or to take accountability for dropping the ball will have a negative impact on your business. Sustained excuses and touting your ability to deliver when it’s really not there will have far-reaching damage on your credibility as a leader and an organization.
It’s said in the restaurant industry, “You’re only as good as your last meal served.” A better phrase would be “You’re only as good as the customer you just served”. Nothing you’ve done in the past, even the prior minute, matters.
The only thing that matters to the customer is what you do for them while they’re standing in front of you.