Consider these two types of calls to customer service.
Call Number One
A very unenthusiastic voice answers with a sigh. You explain your situation and ask for help in resolving an issue. As you ask questions, you sense that they are going through a checklist and responding with “canned” answers.
Ultimately, you are met with a response such as, “We can’t help you with that. You will need to call [another company or another department or another time].”
Or they may say, “This works for us. It should be working for you as well.”
Only you know it is not working. They offer no further alternatives, and then utter these infamous words: “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
Now, in your mind, you know they did not help you with your first request; and you know they do not really want to help you with anything else. So, you hang up the phone, exasperated.
You are now an unhappy customer.
Call Number Two
“Hello, this is ABC Company, Joe speaking, how may I help you today?”
Joe’s professionalism and enthusiasm are immediately apparent. His energy sets a positive tone for the conversation.
You explain your situation. Joe listens intently. He confirms his understanding of your request and begins to find a resolution. If it is within his ability, Joe will take care of it immediately. He may offer a workaround if it is a custom situation.
If it needs to be escalated, he will let you know, and then promise to follow up the next day with the escalation team and keep you posted on progress. He does exactly as he promised.
Joe does not give up until you are happy with a resolution to your issue. He has essentially partnered with you to resolve the issue.
Not only are you a happy customer; you now have a great deal of trust in the company, based on your encounter with Joe.
This is the power of the front line.
Companies spend a great deal of money on marketing and advertising. But how much has your company invested in its front line?
Why does this matter?
It is because your most valuable customer is the one who returns and recommends you to others. Why would you invest so much to get them and so little to keep them?
In a previous article, we talked about how important it is for leaders to motivate themselves.
In this article, we will talk about how you, as a leader, can motivate your team.
Make sure they are placed well.
It could very well be that the representative on call number one had the potential to be a good employee if they were placed in the right position.
For example, you may have an introverted employee who works well in a quiet setting, with minimal supervision. They may be a programmer, for example, or a very detail-oriented accountant. If you place that person in a customer service position, it will be challenging for them to stay motivated long-term. People drain their energy.
On the other hand, if you have an employee who is a helpful “people” person and you place them in this position, it will give them energy.
If you place your people well, you add energy to each individual and to the team. And they will convey that energy to the customer.
Own the responsibility.
While it is true that motivation must come from within, you as the leader must own the outside forces that feed that inner motivation for each of your employees. Place them in the right position. Provide an environment that fits them well. Consider ways to show that you care for them as individuals and not just as part of a corporate machine. Ensure they are well-equipped and trained for the job.
If your team is not motivated in their work, ask yourself if you are doing your part to spark their inner motivation.
Thank your team specifically.
When a team member does something well, be sure to thank them specifically for what they have done. Nothing is more motivating than to sincerely be appreciated for something specific.
Invite their input.
Company suggestion boxes have become the source of sarcasm and jokes. “Put it in the company suggestion box. No one looks there anyway.”
Sadly, there is truth in that.
Leaders often say, “Give us suggestions, send us your ideas, let us know your thoughts.”
But few of those are heeded. And it is not because they are not good ideas, suggestions, and thoughts.
A wise leader will ask for input and take action when it makes sense for the organization to do so. And then report back to the employee that you have done so.
Do you want to motivate your team? Listen to their input and take action.
View them as experts.
Leaders can get into the mindset of thinking only they and their peers know what the company needs to thrive. But a wise leader will take the time to get feedback from the front-line experts, and especially those who deal directly with the customers and systems of the business. While company leaders may be experts in areas like vision and strategy, these team members have expertise as well…in operations, accounting, systems, and customer-facing skills.
If you are only meeting with your peers, you are missing a wealth of expertise. Expanding your circle of expertise not only adds value to the organization, it generates enthusiasm across your team to know they are recognized in this manner.
When individuals are given the chance to contribute their expertise, they are self-motivated to do their best work.
There are times when lack of motivation feeds from the top down. For example, if there is a high level of customer dissatisfaction, there will likely be a front-line issue. If you look beyond the front line, you may find that a leader with an attitude issue is having a trickle-down effect.
Leaders are people, just like anyone else. Everyone has good and bad days. But as a leader, your people look to you to set the example. Keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity not only motivates you; it motivates your entire team.
Take time for them.
Your team will give you their best effort if they feel a connection with you, the organization, and the vision. This means communication is key. Share the bigger picture vision and goals with employees at all levels of your organization. Working together to accomplish a goal is highly motivational.
Empower them to make decisions.
In previous decades of business, the hierarchal model was the accepted norm. Today’s business is much more collaborative. As such, it makes sense for you to give your employees boundaries of authority that are appropriate for their area. If they can help solve a customer’s issue, and they know they have some leeway to do it, they are more apt to be motivated and enthusiastic.
Is your team motivated to serve well? Are you?
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in talking to Dave about coaching or having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.