Tag Archive: employee retention


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In the third quarter of 2015, Hewlett-Packard laid off 10% of its employees, cutting 30,000 jobs in the workforce. According to the Fortune report, most of the layoffs have been reported in customer service and consulting and call center departments. According to HP’s CEO, Meg Whitman, the company may continue firing employees as it moves forward. Whitman took charge in 2011 and since then, the company has downsized by almost 88,000 jobs.

However, if you are also planning to cut jobs like HP, then have a look on these possible side effects.

Loss of Market Credibility

Downsizing is never a desired option for companies. However, the pitfalls of downsizing are way bigger and more today than in the past. As private organizations are choosing ‘blind recruitment’ and ‘recruitment without a university degree’ techniques for hiring new employees, downsizing your customer services could badly affect not only your customers but also your talent pool. This phenomenon could lead to shortage of talent for your company.

Loss of Customers’ Loyalty

You might have spent thousands of dollars to win customers’ loyalty, but cutting thousands of jobs from customer service could result in loss of loyal customers. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the customers start believing that your company is living on the edge and may not survive in the long run. Secondly, your brand starts losing its positive market reputation.

Instability in the Services

One of the most obvious pitfalls of cutting jobs in customer services is instability in the services. Laying off employees to manage your budgetary concerns may lead to reduced services on the scale. You may easily lose your customers if you fail to provide need-based services. Ultimately, the loss of customers will lead to reduced profits. In contrast, downsizing due to shrinking customer base is ideal to maintain your budget.

Weighing the Pros of Downsizing with Cons

Most of the people believe that financial restrictions are solely responsible for downsizing. However, there are numerous reasons for downsizing a company that sometimes lead to effective, productive and better customer services. Some other reasons of downsizing include:

  • Decreased customer base
  • Mismanagement due to imbalanced managerial and employee ratio
  • Reorganizing workforce to improve efficiency
  • Converting employee based organization into a leaner, better-managed enterprise
  • Switching jobs by downsizing one department and expanding the other
  • Shuffling resources by saving on recruitment and service costs to invest the money in productivity costs

When a company downsizes for a specific goal, it is called reengineering or reorganizing, and this is exactly what HP did. The concept of strategic downsizing evolved in 1980s. However, it is essential to remember that your company may suffer miserably if your strategic downsizing plan is miscalculated, or if it fails.

www.52CustomerServiceTips.com

 

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……….and you will deliver world-class customer service.

Popular belief suggests that customers are the reason problems begin in any organization. That’s far from the case in reality; problems begin with the company and its employees. Customers expect a top-notch experience but receive a bad one instead. As a result, the company loses them forever.  Excellent customer service starts with employees, and if the employees aren’t happy with your company, how can you expect them to make your customers happy?

In my book  Fresh Customer Service- Treat the Employee as #1 and the Customer as #2 and you will get customers for life – I explain that the best way to make your customers happy is to ensure  your employees are happy with their job and empowered and equipped to deliver a world-class customer service experience.  The first two steps of the 6.5 steps  are Side by Side Walking and Smart Tasking.

  1. Side By Side Walking

The first fresh step towards understanding your employees is side by side walking. This essentially means stepping into your employees’ shoes, enabling you to identify the gaps in your company’s operations and helping you determine which areas need improvement. All you have to do is engage in the same activities as your employees for one day to understand where your company stands.

Steps to Effective Side by Side Walking

Following are the main steps for side by side walking:

  • Make safety a priority
  • Jobs should be described in written documents which outline the tasks and desired outcomes
  • Mentally prepare yourself and realize the significance and purpose of this strategy
  • Ensure you adopt same dress code, gear, and use the same equipment as your employees
  • Perform all pre-work tasks your employees have to perform like clocking in, preparing shift register, reading the task board, etc.
  • Do all the tasks as per the existing processes and procedures the employees follow
  • Observe all the tasks and process being followed during the shift
  • Ensure that you complete the entire shift
  • Reflect and assess the tasks you did, the problems that occurred, and compare it to the job description of your employees
  • Determine where the problems are and where improvements are needed.

2.    Smart Tasking

The second fresh step towards understanding your customers is Smart Tasking. It helps in setting up clear priorities and expectations for your employees which would assist them in offering the best customer support to your customers. Train your employees to smart task effectively and encourage them to speak up if they are assigned tasks that they deem ineffective and unnecessary. This helps in eliminating unnecessary work for the employees and makes their tasks more manageable and enjoyable for them.

Steps for Smart Tasking

Following are the main steps for smart tasking:

  • Understand the processes and operations
  • Identify the right tasks and eliminate unnecessary ones
  • Recommend specific time duration for each task
  • Never sacrifice safety of your employees
  • Ensure you provide easy step-by-step instructions for all tasks
  • Determine if the tasks adds to the customers’ experience and to what degree
  • Make adjustments where necessary
  • Review all tasks to ensure they are necessary for the overall process
  • Offer appropriate training of smart tasking for your employees

Understanding the problems your employees face and the environment they work in will help you in making their work experience better. Training them to prioritize and eliminating complex and unnecessary tasks will enhance their work satisfaction and make tasks easy for them. As a result, they will be able to offer a world-class customer service experience  to your customers.

 

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  1. Good performance is its own reward. When employees consistently demonstrate good or even great performance, but do not receive any reward or recognition beyond what their average or below-average peers receive, they will quickly become disengaged. Employees do not need a bonus check every time they go “above and beyond,” but never recognizing exceptional performance will disengage your top employees while ironically inferior employees relatively unaffected.

 

Truly exceptional performance must be rewarded. This can consist of public praise or perhaps a gift certificate to a local restaurant, but sometimes may need to consist of a raise or bonus, as well. By directly tying any financial rewards to the actual increase in revenue an employee’s performance produces, employers can ensure they still leave room for the company to profit.

  1. Too much work. The pace of modern business requires employees to produce more results with longer hours than ever before. Even when off hours, many employees are expected to remain on call through smartphones, tablet computers, etc. Employees understand the situation, but are still only human and have their breaking point. An endless succession of 70-hour weeks, weekends at the office, personal time disruptions, etc., will lead to disengagement.

 

Employers need to realize that at a certain point, quantity of hours worked starts to have a negative impact on quality of work. Only ask for extra hours when they are truly needed (such as imminent deadline for a major project), and only text/call/email off hours in an emergency. Employees who are allowed to engage in their personal lives will be more engaged at work.

 

  1. Not enough play. The workplace does not have to be an adult playground, but an office or worksite that only offers drudgery and stress will breed disengagement. Provide break areas that let employees relax and have fun when they need a few minutes away from their desk or workspace. A few beanbag chairs and foosball tables can go a long way. Also investments in free perks like snacks and beverages can more than pay for themselves in increased employee engagement.

 

  1. Employees feel disrespected. A lack of respect is one of those situations that is hard to define, but everyone knows it when they experience it. Disrespect is an active effort. Where not listening to employees is passive, belittling them for speaking up is disrespectful. Publicly screaming at an employee who is tardy is disrespectful, while calling them into a supervisor’s office for a private reprimand is much more appropriate (and the employee could even be allowed to explain a possible extenuating circumstance, such as a child’s school bus running late). Disrespected employees become disengaged.

6.5 Don’t be a dead end. I will use the last .5 reason to offer a brief word of encouragement. Ultimately, employees disengage from “dead end” jobs that offer no personal or professional reward, but are merely a grind that pays the bills. The job you offer doesn’t have to be a dead end! By recognizing and rewarding top performers, offering humane working hours and conditions, and letting employees speak their minds when appropriate, you should avoid most disengagement. Employees who do become disengaged in this type of scenario probably aren’t worth retaining, anyway!

 

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The perils of the disengaged employee are well-documented. Disengaged employees are employees who show up for work every day, but don’t feel connected to their jobs, companies, bosses or coworkers. Their performance is mediocre and behind schedule, and they often bring down other employees around them with their poor morale and generally disgruntled attitude. Most business experts agree a disgruntled employee is a much greater threat to your organization than one who quits.

However, while a good deal of attention has been paid to who disgruntled employees are and how they threaten your organization, there has been far less light shed on why employees become disgruntled in the first place. Following are 6.5 reasons employees become disengaged, with a fresh idea on how to counteract and prevent each reason from occurring.

  1. Employers don’t engage. This reason is so obvious it almost seems not worth mentioning, but it’s listed first on purpose. Many employers never engage their employees on any real, human level. They simply assign work, hand out paychecks, and leave workers feeling very much like small cogs in a large machine. Any type of human engagement, even something as small as a suggestion box, monthly birthday celebration or words of encouragement from a boss, can go a long way toward making employees feel engaged with their work.
  2. Employers don’t listen. Many organizations operate in a “top-down,” hierarchical format where senior managers give directions to middle managers, who pass them along to employees. Obviously most companies cannot function as direct democracies where everyone gets an equal say, but too rigid a hierarchy creates feelings of resentment and powerlessness among the “rank and file.” Unchecked, these feelings lead to disengagement.

 

Discretion is the better part of listening. Any time a new process or responsibility is implemented, give the employees carrying it out a chance to give positive and negative feedback, and listen to both. The people who actually carry out orders have insight those giving orders will never possess.

 

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Relentless Focus is about a steady, persistent, unyielding, and committed focus on providing a World-Class customer service experience 24 hours a day, seven days a week by everyone in the organization. This focus doesn’t take a break or go on vacation, it is always present.

Many organizations are good at “kick-off celebrations.” Most customer service programs start off with a bang, with everyone being committed and poised to make them happen. But as the strategies start changing, new leaders come in, employees become disinterested and the focus shifts to something else, the initial great customer service program is tossed aside like a child’s old favorite toy.

Relentless Focus forces the organization to make an ongoing investment in providing a World-Class customer service experience by embedding it into the core business model. Every program, strategy, and initiative has an automatic space carved out for providing a World-Class customer service experience. Not providing this focus destroys the foundation of the operation and the goal of providing a great customer experience.

Because a World-Class customer service experience is the foundation of any successful operation, Relentless Focus on customer service predetermines the ultimate success of any operation. If the focus on customer service is lost, then employees begin to believe that the organization isn’t really committed to its customer service goals or any of its other programs, initiatives, or strategies.

How can you achieve Relentless Focus? Start by following these helpful hints:

  1. Post a plain and simple statement on the communal cork board (or employee blog, etc.) affirming the organization’s commitment to providing a World-Class customer service experience.

  2. Gain buy-in from every person and facet of the organization so that everyone knows they are accountable for providing a World-Class customer service experience 100 percent of the time.

  3. Train all employees on the best ways to maintain this focus while executing any task.

  4. New generations will enter the workplace, customer demands will change, and the competitive landscape will morph. It behooves the organization to constantly review the customer experience to ensure that it is competitive and still executable by the employees.

  5. Make the World-Class customer experience part of the corporate culture, goals, and strategies. Don’t turn it into some kind of “program of the month” that is forgotten the day the calendar changes over to the first of the next month.

While you are implementing Relentless Focus throughout your organization, remember this critical fact: It is impossible to deliver a World-Class customer service experience if people of the organization are working in “silos,” a concept synonymous with barriers that separate work teams, departments, and divisions.

Silos cause people who work for the same employer to compete against one another, often because a clear directive or strategy is not communicated. In silo-driven organizations, managers, department heads, and program managers care a great deal about their own little departments but are oblivious (sometimes purposefully) to other priorities that affect the greater good of the company as a whole. Unfortunately, these ignored priorities can include the most important one of all, providing a World-Class customer service experience.

The leadership team needs to clearly and explicitly communicate to every member of the organization that providing a World-Class customer service experience through Fresh Customer Service is the foundation of the business and is the responsibility of every member. It unequivocally comes before any silo competition.

The leadership team should understand that a mere statement of the need to provide a World-Class customer service experience will not guarantee success, especially if a silo mentality exists. The only way to successfully achieve outstanding customer service is by getting everyone involved and backing it wholeheartedly. Members of the workforce should exit their silos and abandon the silo mentality for the good of all the Frontline Employees and customers, and consequently, the bottom line. Why settle for a good quarter when Relentless Focus can help you realize a good quarter-century?

 

 

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“Make the customer number one.” Customer service experts have been chanting variations of this mantra since one caveman paid another caveman three clamshells for the skin of a sabertooth tiger. Okay, as far as we know cavemen didn’t chant mantras, but you get my point. The vast majority of customer service strategies use the idea of making your customer your top priority as their cornerstone.

Since most customer service strategies are partially or wholly based on making the customer number one, then obviously customer service levels must be at an all-time high, right? Everywhere you go, people are raving about how great their daily customer service experiences are, and customer satisfaction polls back this affirmation up with hard data.

I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing before I continue. Hopefully you didn’t snort any of your morning coffee out your nose. We all realize that in far too many cases, the one word that best sums up the state of customer service today is “disaster.” Lines are long, information is scarce, products are out of place or out of stock, and no two employees have the same answer to the same question. If today’s public-serving organizations really are making the customer number one, they have a funny way of demonstrating it.

Ironically, customer service levels are declining as competition for customer loyalty is increasing. In this age of chain expansion, a customer can find your services duplicated or your products cheaper on the next block. The one way you can differentiate yourself in a sea of similar competition is by offering a world-class customer service experience. This will never happen if you use the same stale, outdated, failed approach to customer service that you and your competitors have always used before. Namely, the “making the customer number one” approach.

The business world needs a makeover. A new perspective. A fresh approach that I like to call “Fresh Customer Service.” Fresh Customer Service demystifies the process of attracting loyal, happy customers who return again and again and recommend your business to their friends and families. This type of customer reaction, what some may consider as a minor detail, can actually tip the scales and prove the difference between a prosperous organization and a bankrupt organization. So what’s the secret? The Frontline Employee.

This idea is the key to unlocking sustained long-term success in whatever area of service or production your organization offers. Throughout your organization’s entire process of selling, serving, marketing, cleaning — you name it — the only way you can hope to deliver a world-class customer service experience is by listening to, equipping, empowering, involving, and valuing the feedback and expertise your Frontline Employees can offer.

Click here to read the full article.

 

For leadership coachingprofessional development training, customer service trainingcustomer service tips, college success tips, or to learn how to build a personal brand, how to improve customer service, or  how to succeed in college, contact Michael D Brown, a premier leadership speaker, customer service speaker, and college motivational speaker at http://www.myfreshbrand.com, http://www.freshcustomerservice.com, or http://www.52collegesuccesstips.com.

apple

 

You have probably heard the phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” more times than you can count. Apples are natural, healthy, and best of all, cheap. If you aren’t eating an apple a day to maintain your health, presumably the cost isn’t what’s keeping you from doing so.

For the same amount of money that you would invest in that daily apple to ensure your physical health, you can also fund a strategy that will ensure the health of your frontline customer service operation. I call this strategy “Fresh Customer Service.”

Fresh Customer Service demystifies the process of attracting loyal, happy customers who return again and again and recommend your business to their friends and families. This type of customer reaction, what some may consider as a minor detail, can actually tip the scales and prove the difference between a prosperous organization and a bankrupt organization. So what’s the secret? The Frontline Employee.

Throughout your organization’s entire process of selling, serving, marketing, cleaning—you name it—the only way you can hope to deliver a World-Class customer service experience is by listening to, equipping, empowering, involving, and valuing the feedback and expertise your Frontline Employees can offer.

How exactly do you implement and execute Fresh Customer Service? I have broken down the process into the following 6.5 simple and cost-effective steps.

The First Steps: Fresh Understanding

Fresh Step 1, Side-by-Side Walking, involves walking a mile in the shoes of employees to understand what they do, how they do it, and how they experience their jobs. Side-By-Side Walking will help give you a real-world understanding of the environment your Frontline Employees operate in, and separate perceptions from actual activities and true problems. Side-By-Side Walking is the foundation for understanding where your organization is at the moment, the gaps that exist, what is working and what needs improvement.

Best of all, Side-by-Side Walking only requires you, the corporate manager or executive, to take one day of your schedule and devote it to going through all the activities your Frontline Employees go through, from pre-shift preparation to post-shift cleanup and closeout. Far more than a site visit, it’s a true immersion into your Frontline Employees’ daily lives and routines. As far as the cost is concerned, how much gas will you use traveling to your nearest frontline unit?

Fresh Step 2, Smart Tasking, clearly defines the critical tasks/processes that support the customer service offering and the deadlines by which they must be completed. The most important factor is completing the necessary tasks/processes without impeding the delivery of a World-Class customer service experience to the customer. Smart Tasking creates a harmonized balance between completing the tasks/processes and delivering a World-Class customer service experience.

To effect Smart Tasking in your organization, simply keep a careful eye on the frontline tasks your employees perform, the order in which they prioritize them, and periodically review them to ensure that they are appropriate and add value to the customer experience. Actively involve the Frontline Employees in Smart Tasking and encourage them to speak up when they find themselves performing tasks that are inefficient, ineffective, or just plain unnecessary.

What is the cost of having both on-site frontline managers and off-site corporate managers take the time to carefully monitor frontline tasks and priorities, while providing Frontline Employees an active voice in determining how to set their priorities? Virtually none. Whatever time you may “lose” in careful observation and review will more than pay for itself in higher levels of employee efficiency, customer satisfaction, and corporate profits.

The Middle Steps: Fresh Empowerment

Fresh Step 3, Make-It-Right Power, instills both the responsibility and the authority to resolve customer complaints and issues in the Frontline Employees who are most able to satisfy the customer at any point in time.

Make-It-Right Power puts the ability to deliver a World-Class customer service experience in the hands of the people who are best able to deliver it: The employees who interact with the customers. It’s about empowering and positioning employees to be able to instantly solve customer problems and view them as opportunities to Make-It-Right now for the customer.

Make-It-Right Power delivers both the responsibility and the prescribed authority to the employees to transform a customer’s bad experience into a positive one, or in the best case scenario, one that can proactively hedge off the situation as a result of prescribed Make-It-Right Power before it even festers into a bad experience.

The costs of giving your Frontline Employees Make-It-Right Power are also low. For example, you may want to authorize employees to offer refunds or coupons good for future purchases, with higher-level employees enabled to authorize larger amounts of money or credit. Whatever the upfront costs of giving a few dollars back to a customer who had a negative experience, they will pay for themselves down the road when that satisfied customer keeps coming back and making full-fledged purchases!

Click here to read the full article.

 

For leadership coachingprofessional development training, customer service trainingcustomer service tips, college success tips, or to learn how to build a personal brand, how to improve customer service, or  how to succeed in college, contact Michael D Brown, a premier leadership speaker, customer service speaker, and college motivational speaker at http://www.myfreshbrand.com, http://www.freshcustomerservice.com, or http://www.52collegesuccesstips.com.

The low costs and high returns of 'fresh customer service'

 

You have probably heard the phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” more times than you can count. Apples are natural, healthy and best of all — cheap. If you aren’t eating an apple a day to maintain your health, presumably the cost isn’t what’s keeping you from doing so.

For the same amount of money that you would invest in that daily apple to ensure your physical health, you can also fund a strategy that will ensure the health of your frontline customer service operation. I call this strategy “Fresh Customer Service.”

Fresh Customer Service demystifies the process of attracting loyal, happy customers who return again and again and recommend your business to their friends and families. This type of customer reaction, what some may consider as a minor detail, can actually tip the scales and prove the difference between a prosperous organization and a bankrupt organization. So what’s the secret? The frontline employee.

Throughout your organization’s entire process of selling, serving, marketing, cleaning — you name it — the only way you can hope to deliver a world-class customer service experience is by listening to, equipping, empowering, involving and valuing the feedback and expertise your frontline employees can offer.

How do you implement and execute Fresh Customer Service? I have broken down the process into the following 6.5 simple and cost-effective steps.

Click here to read the full article.