Top 10 tips for improving customer satisfaction

Linda
Holbeche, director of research at Roffey Park Institute gives her top 10 tips
on how to implement people policies to make your organisation more
customer-focused

The
famous Sears case study (Harvard Business Review, Jan/Feb 1998) showed how the
US retailer was able to successfully turn around its flagging business results
by focusing on the things that mattered to its employees.

Sears
found that when its employees felt valued, they gave better service to
customers, who in turn became more loyal, spent more and made investors happy.
In Sears’ case, even a small shift in this employee-customer value chain had a
direct effect on business results. Effective HR practices were what made the
difference.  

Here
are ten top tips on how HR can help employees develop the skill and will to be
customer focused.

1
Use employee attitude surveys to take the temperature of the organisation and
to focus HR delivery on things which make a difference.

2
Ensure people are clear on what their job is, and how it relates to the
customer. Role descriptions should help people see the whole process and how
their job fits in with others in the value chain. Facilitate cross-boundary
teams set up to address customer projects.

3
Develop reward and recognition schemes, including ‘spot’ bonuses at managers’
and team members’ discretion, which reinforce great customer-focused
performance. Design suggestion schemes which encourage innovative solutions to
customer needs.

4
Create performance management processes which provide people with meaningful
feedback on how they are doing. Ensure responsibilities are clear, and that
metrics reinforce the highest standards. Train managers to manage performance,
including how to deal with poor performance.

5
‘Command and control’ management styles tend to produce ‘more than my job’s
worth’ employee styles. Train managers to coach and delegate more effectively,
so that people become empowered to use their initiative and be accountable.

6
Remind employees what it feels like to be on the customer end of bad and good
service. Marks & Spencer used actors in training roadshows to make staff
aware of how small things can make a difference to how customers feel.

7
Develop leaders at every level. Help them focus on building an open,
problem-solving climate.

8
Train front-line staff in customer service. Train professionals in ‘internal
consultancy’ and ‘relationship management’ skills. Train everyone in
teamworking, problem-solving and interpersonal communication skills.

9
Find ways of helping people work smarter, not harder. Work with line managers
to develop effective knowledge management practices so that the wheel does not
have to be reinvented each time and that work processes are employee and
customer friendly. Develop a range of flexible working options so that
employees can achieve work-life balance.

10
Act as an excellent role model for customer service. Seek out customer
feedback, and aim to proactively address customer needs before they become
problems.

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