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 differen