(I”m taking a break from blogging and will return after Aug 2. In the meantime, enjoy this post from March 2006.)
So you implemented a customer service program and it is either not working or it´s working in some places not others. When people are not using something they´re supposed to be using, the answer is usually, “It´s a training problem!” Maybe. Maybe not. If the problem exists all across your business, then perhaps your plan is flawed or your internal communications faulty.
Do your employees understand why this new program is important? Have you provided sufficient motivation in terms of accountability and recognition? Whoa! Back up. I just used the “A” word. Did you catch it? It´s “accountability“. Just because you´ve trained your employees to be more “customer service responsive” doesn´t mean they´re going to do it. Some will; others won´t. I´ve said before that your employees are your most important customers. It´s important to treat them as such especially when you´re implementing any kind of change.
You need, at the minimum, to develop a written strategy which would include an internal marketing plan, budget, training plan and a timeline. Operations must play a role in this because your managers and their employees must know what is expected of them. Employees must be held accountable for their actions. When an employee fails to meet the standard behavior they must be disciplined. When they exceed it they should be rewarded and recognized.
In most cases, your front-line managers are your most important customers. If you can “sell” them on the benefits of legendary customer service AND they know they will be held accountable for their actions and those of their employees, then you´ve nearly closed the gap between top management´s expectations and the reality your street level staff are experiencing.
The term “Knowing-Doing Gap” refers to people who´ve been trained but then don´t use their new knowledge or skills as management expects. There are other reasons besides accountability that can lead to this gap (inadequate staffing or lack of other resources) but in this case it´s best to start at the beginning of the alphabet with “accountability” and go from there. Yes, sometimes it is a training problem. But more often it´s a lack of accountability problem.
“Management by objectives works if you first think through your objectives. Ninety percent of the time you haven´t. —Peter Drucker