To be successful at what you do requires a variety of different strategies all focused at accomplishing your business goals. These goals may be to merely show a profit, provide you with a stable income, or increase shareholder value. But regardless of your business goal, one strategy should be to deliver consistent superlative customer service (unless you´re trying to lose money, that is).
What is the most important component that allows you to create a superlative customer service experience? I believe that the people you hire are the single most important ingredient, more important than even the quality of your products. Don´t believe that your people are more important than your products? How many times have you had to fire someone for incompetence? How many times have you discontinued a product because it was defective or didn´t meet your customers´ needs? I´m betting you´ve fired way more people than you´ve discontinued products.
What are the skills and abilities your employees need to become star performers? These skills and abilities, called competencies, should be identified and looked for when you hire new employees.
One way to determine how well your competencies match your people are is to look at your retention rates. If your retention is less than that of your competitors, you may need to take a hard look at the processes you have to bring people into your organization. A popular rule of thumb is that every time an employee leaves, it costs you anywhere between 33% and 250% of his salary. Focus on hiring the right people, give them the training, motivation, and compensation they need and watch your retention rate and your profits increase.
Are you too small to afford an HR department? Consider hiring a consultant on a part-time basis. For more information about how hiring the right people ties in with your overall business goals, read, "First, Break All The Rules"?? by Buckingham and Coffman.
Then watch for my next post when I profile someone whom I believe exemplifies superlative customer service.
"But there´s no substitute for getting smarter faster. And the way you get smarter is to screw around vigorously. Try stuff. See what works. See what fails miserably. Learn. Rinse. Repeat."??
–Tom Peters, quoted in "Fast Company"?? Dec. 2001.