Visualize this: It´s 18 months from now. Your sales are increasing in the form of more repeat business and more referrals. You´ve spent the last 12 months focusing on changing your business´s culture to focus more on meeting the customers´ needs. The results are very positive.
First, you made the decision to become customer-focused and then you created a plan that not only involved your employees in molding your new culture, but recognized the importance of communicating the need for this to them in a timely fashion.
You empowered your employees to make decisions you formerly reserved for yourself or other senior managers. Now, customers don´t have to wait for someone to resolve their complaints, even your entry-level employees can do that. Sure, they´ve screwed up once or twice, but the goodwill far outweighs any mistakes. The amount of time you spend on complaints in now minimal, dramatically reducing your stress level.
One group reviewed all of your policies, not just those directly related to customer service, and aligned them with your new emphasis on building relationships with your customers. One change speeded up your refund policy, another allowed employees more freedom to use the Internet at work . Both had a positive impact on morale.
Another employee team focused on creating written values for your business. Perhaps they look like these:
Trustworthy – we do what we say we will
Helpful — we work as one team
Inspiring – we create new possibilities
Straightforward – we make things clear
Heart – we believe in what we do
(Thank you, Gareth.)
Because they were created by their peers and not mandated by management, employee buy-in has been very positive. Employees learns these on their first day while managers have been trained to hold their staff accountable for practicing these. You, the owner, not only practice these, you look for examples of them in your staff and provide them with recognition.
Another group looked at employee rewards and recognition. They ran into the most difficulty, trying to make rewards equitable for everyone, not just sales staff. You had to network with fellow business owners to find a solution, but you did. Morale is up, turnover is down.
As you focused on your employees you opened up to them more. They responded and you learned more about them. You found that one of them blogs and she helped you start one for your employees and customers. This helped your employees deal with these changes.
It also made sales for you because some of the blog posts have dealt with maintaining your products. You´ve set the blog as your homepage and your inside sales staff have learned to spin their monitors around and show customers where to find useful information. When your customers realized they could find the answers if they had problems, their confidence in your products rose. That caused sales to rise, including those of accessories.
But change is never easy. You lost several employees whom many thought were irreplaceable because they didn´t have the right attitude to deal with customers. However, their replacements had more positive attitudes and your teams are stronger and more effective now. When you do have to hire, you put more emphasis on positive attitudes, even for those who won´t be dealing with external customers.
Bottom line: Your revenue is up. Your turnover is down. You and your employees are having more fun. Not only have you built new relationships with your customers, you´ve also made some new friends.
Life-and business-is good!