I keep a running list of titles as they come to me, and sometimes I actually manage to write a post to match one of them. Other times I write a paragraph or two and store it away for a rainy day. Today was one of those days. It rained, YAY! But that’s not the point. The point is that on days when I start to tweak those paragraphs to make them post worthy, I often end up with something totally different from what I started out to write. That’s kinda what happened here.
The Service Is What The Service Is, Ma’am
If you’ve tried to get a human on the phone to resolve an issue, any issue, you know that the level of frustration with the call center situation has reached fever pitch. Cues around the world are experiencing heavier than usual call volume no matter who you call. Want to know why you were charged for some plastic crap you didn’t purchase? Didn’t get that plastic crap you ordered for you kid? Please hold for the next available representative. We try to convince ourselves that it’s hysterically funny. It is, except, no wait, it isn’t. Okay, maybe it is when it happens on TV.
NOT an endorsement for this credit card company. Click here for customer service-Please Hold
Consider The Source
If retaining customers is not a priority for a company, first: its leaders are stupid and short-sighted, but second: no amount of political bashing over outsourcing is going to fix the situation. The government’s job is to make sure there are equal opportunities for people who want to go into business, people who want to work and to insure the public isn’t harmed by industries. NOT to determine a company’s internal structure, business strategy, and certainly not to bail that company out when it tanks for any reason, including but not limited to, greedy bastards running it into the ground.
Companies interested in more than just whatever market share they can grab before they file Chapter 11, well, their customer facing employees with zero interpersonal skills and their call center reps who don’t properly follow-up and follow through to resolve issues quickly, either need to be properly trained or shown the door. In most companies, it’s sales, sales, sales, YAY sales! But customer satisfaction is dependent upon the employees whose job it is to deliver service after the sale. Those employees need to be adequately trained much more than sales people need a week-long, off-site pep rally in Costa Rica.
Businesses that genuinely seek to attract and retain customer relationship management talent should put their money where their core values are, and invest in the professional development of their most productive employees. The return on investment will be higher than the ever popular reward strategy of a deli tray and casual Friday. Every employee knows the difference between the two. Employees who are incentivized with the former will set higher standards for themselves and strive to exceed those standards because they know their efforts are truly valued by the company. Those given the later will push the company’s dress code standards, call in sick on alternating Mondays and demoralize everyone in the cubicles around them by constantly complaining that there wasn’t enough ham on the deli tray.
Job satisfaction surveys should be used to measure where to spend those training dollars. Performance appraisals should be taken seriously by managers and performance issues should be communicated to employees as a corrective measure instead of as a way to create documentation that protects a company from litigation. When mid-level managers have the skill to effectively evaluate their employees, when companies invest in professional development, retaining quality people becomes a non-issue. Top performers should be offered training to prepare them for advancement. If managers have done their jobs properly, it will be money well spent.
Companies often allow mid-level managers to use the “you’re lucky to have a job” strategy to keep employees in check. Tactics like that translate into low moral and when that happens, those companies are just asking for customer service issues to escalate. Left unresolved, this results in employee turn over and lost customers. Oh, and companies tanking because greedy bastards run them into the ground.
Of this I know.