Posted: 27th September 2010

Are your employees customer service super-heroes? They could be if you’d let them!

Empowered Employees Are the Best Customer Heroes‘ is the title of a recent article on 1 to 1 Media. An interesting read, this article illustrated two typical examples of customer service. One of the companies cited was clearly very customer centric, focused on the needs and expectations of its customers, versus an organisation that clearly required some assistance in meeting its customers’ expectations.

The article hits the nail on the head regarding employee empowerment in call centres and customer service departments. If only employees were empowered to make a few proactive decisions, many more of us would hang up the phone satisfied customers.

My most recent online food delivery experience from my favourite supermarket (yes, I have been a ‘fan’ for some time!) has left me with a bitter aftertaste, and a lesser opinion of the brand.
When my food was returned to the store after a mis-communication between the store and the delivery driver, I was fobbed off with the same ‘goodwill’ voucher that they issue when deliveries are 2 minutes late.

When it still arrived late the following day, there was no further compensation, nor an apology. I was made to wait for at least 20 minutes each time I called to enquire.

When I complained about how long I was kept waiting, I got an ‘it’s not my fault but I’m sorry’ type of reply, and when I said that I expected them to deduct the price of the delivery, the answer was ‘that is not a decision I can make’. If only the employee had been empowered to make me a little happier, I might not do my next online shop at a rival supermarket.

The moral of the story – employees need real time insight into the customer, and the company processes. I doubt that many call centre staff have knowledge of how valuable every customer is in monetary terms to the business.  However what if customers were ranked, with employee empowerment to act dependent on how valuable a customer is to the business, would this not help companies to keep loyal customers? I am not advocating that every customer is not important, but a customer who spends money on your products every week surely deserves recognition for customer loyalty, and transparency of information would make this possible.

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