Employees or Ambassadors?

In today’s competitive marketplace, companies are only as good as their people. The best companies get that and have unique hiring processes to hire people who are aligned culturally with their company’s brand promise.

But, so many companies don’t. How many times do you encounter those in the service profession (such as retail associates, telephone customer service representatives, and fast food workers) to be uninterested, not helpful and lacking in empathy. Why is that so hard? And why do we put up with it?

Ted Cohn wrote a book called Why are you Making it So Hard for me to Give You My Money? He points out that even when you want to do business, the person on the other end of the transaction is just putting in the hours, not trying to make a sale, please a customer or grow the business.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car makes it clear to all employees that the only path to promotion is satisfied and loyal customers. How can Chick-fil-A employ polite and attentive servers when others hire people that are clearly bored and underwhelmed with the opportunity to serve you? Who is to blame? The employee or the one who hired them, trained them and put them in place to “serve” the customer?

Many companies say they have exceptional customer service. The question is, “What are they doing to deliver it?” If none of their business practices or policies are unique—hiring practices, training commitment, and a distinctive culture and set of expectations—it is a reasonable indication that it is more lip service than a strategic commitment.

What is your situation? Answer these questions:

  1. Do you have a unique set of criteria or process by which you hire employees that is executed at all locations?
  2. Do you have employees who will consistently deliver the desired behavior, even if the manager isn’t watching?
  3. Do you have a process in place to know what your customer loyalty rate is and why?
  4. Do employees get rewarded for great service?
  5. Do you empower employees to solve problems and satisfy customers?

If you answer “yes” to these questions, then you have ambassadors for your business. If not, you have employees—some of whom may be a bigger liability than you realize. It is hard to count how many times someone doesn’t come back or how much they don’t buy because they were upset about something. Yet, we know we have all walked away in disappointment because of a poor experience badly handled.

The new show Undercover Boss demonstrates the advantages of seeing your business from your employees’ eyes. It is equally important to see your business from your customers’ eyes. Both can be highly revealing.

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