Topic(s): Employee Engagement Customer Experience

CX Success starts in-house: the 2 levels of employee empowerment

Empowered employees make you more money.

That’s the starting point of the service-profit chain. The model, developed by James Heskett in 1994 links employee empowerment to customer satisfaction and, ultimately revenue growth. We have a whole e-book on it, which you can find here, but let’s get back to our point.

Often when companies want to improve the customer experience they focus on external factors, namely the customer. By creating customer journeys, doing market research, and looking at the competition they try to get a grip on the customer’s behaviour. But why not turn it around and work from the inside-out? Why not focus on everything that’s happening in-house? You have full control over the amount you invest in your employees. So focus on that first, and trust the service-profit chain.

To help you out, we split employee empowerment into 2 levels:

Operations & support

Make sure that your employees have everything they need to do their jobs well. In the first place, this means providing them with the right tools. Next to that, it’s crucial that those tools are integrated across departments. What’s the point of good CRM when it can’t pull up the customer data across the journey? It’s important everywhere, but mainly in customer service. Helping an unsatisfied customer is a make-or-break moment and you want your agents to be able to access all systems necessary to answers the customer’s question.

Training is a key element too. Sales reps that are well trained about the product feel more confident talking to customers and will ultimately also sell more. Customer-facing teams shouldn’t only be trained on the product itself, but soft skills like negotiation, complaint handling, and empathy shouldn’t be ignored either. Our case study with Securitas is a great example(link). They learned through customer feedback that their emergency agents didn’t show enough empathy. As a first follow up, they all received training on how to be effective and empathic at the same time.

Culturally

You can have the best tools in the world, but culture eats strategy for breakfast! How much do your trust your employees in customer-facing situations? Are your service agents allowed to give a discount when, according to their judgment, it’s the right situation to do so? If your answer is no, you might not be giving your employees enough ownership. You may want to check your customer feedback: if customers are complaining about slow resolution times, this could be the exact issue.

When employees can take ownership and feel supported doing so, the trust will pay off. They won’t hesitate to take action and that leads to solving customer problems even faster.

Where does customer feedback come in?

Customer feedback reflects how well you’re supporting your employees. Any remarks about lack of expertise, slow ticket handling, low motivation are smoke signals for an underlying problem. When it affects your customer, it directly impacts your revenue as well. We know that focusing more on your employees isn’t the quick-and-dirty way to increase revenue. However, in the short-term, it can heavily impact employee retention and once you have a solid team, the revenue will follow too. So why not give it a try?