Have you ever walked into a store near closing time and experienced poor customer service because the staff just wanted to go home? Or have you ever had an encounter with a store representative who clearly didn’t care about providing a good experience. This is what I call the “employee motivation dilemma”. In many retail organizations there is a conflict of interest between the company and the front line employees. The main goal of the company in to maximize profits while the main goal of the employee, especially front line retail employees, is to collect a paycheck and get through work so they can do the things they enjoy. Most customer service rep’s compensation is based on hours worked and not on the performance of the store so they are not invested in building brand value through positive interactions with customers. This is a problem because the interaction customers have with the front line employees can make or break a relationship with a brand. A rude receptionist can erase all the good will created by the most brilliant ad campaigns.
I think the solution is a new approach to managing front line retail employees. Starbucks and Nordstrom’s do a really good job at training their employees to execute a brand strategy of superior customer service, but I think it should be taken a step further. Why not engage front line employees to be involved with the performance of the business. That means being transparent with the sales and expenses with all your employees. It means if a single store exceeds profit goals, reward the employees with bonuses accordingly. Think up creative and fun contests to encourage positive competition. Encourage employees to lead projects to improve customer service and empower them to execute creative ideas to bring in new business or build relationships with the most profitable customers. Invite front line workers to be present and contribute to management meetings. Recognize, recognize, and recognize, employees for exceptional service. Schedule 1 on 1 reviews between managers and employees to regularly to review performance and encourage personal development through teaching and mentoring. The customer service rep is a valuable asset to a firm’s marketing team, and by involving, engaging, training, and empowering, you can create a culture that inspires front line employees to do more than just be there to pick up a paycheck.
Related Post: In Customer Service, You’re Always on Stage Customers Rock!
Image Courtesy of Heather R