Legendary General Motors CEO Alfred Sloan once responded to Peter Drucker’s question as to why Sloan spent so much time on “a minor hiring decision.”
Sloan’s reply was, “If we didn’t spend four hours on placing a man and placing him right, we’d spend four hundred hours on cleaning up our mistake and that time I wouldn’t have.”
If you go back and read customer service complaints on the Internet, inside and outside the blogosphere, most of them will be complaints about people, not products. When customers return products that didn’t meet their expectations, employees can usually save the customer if the complaint is handled well (from the customers perspective).
But many businesses consider their products to be more important assets than their employees. Think about the last time you made a poor hiring decision. Productivity, lost sales, and employee morale were most likely negatively impacted. Many hours may have been spent in “cleaning up your mistake.”
Here’s a better idea. First, identify what your vision is for your business. Where does customer service enter the picture? Next, create a business plan. Then, identify the competencies needed for each of the positions in your business. You may need to bring in a Human Resources consultant if you don’t have your own HR people.
Be sure that those people making the hiring decisions receive special training in hiring. Spending a few extra thousand dollars here may save tens of thousands of dollars down the road.
If you identify the competencies needed for your positions and your managers have the right knowledge, skills, and abilities to hire, then you will be able to spend more time on your core business and less time cleaning up messes.
Creating a business which stands out from its competitors because of attributes like customer service means hiring the right people, then providing them with training.
You can’t create a culture where customer service is a key component if your people don’t have the right competencies. Don’t skimp on HR. Don’t skimp on the time you devote to hiring.