What does it mean to “empower employees” and why is it so important to delivering customer experience? Why should organizations go beyond enabling and equipping their employees, but also take the steps necessary to empower their employees to deliver on the promise of customer experience?
It is because our employees are on the front lines when it comes to delivering customer experience. It is those employees in marketing, sales, support, customer service, professional services, etc. who are interacting with our customers on a daily basis and they will make the difference in the experience that is delivered.
On his “Start With Why” blog, Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, states the following, “Empowered employees have the power to make decisions without a supervisor. They are entitled to go off script, bend the rules, do what they see fit if they believe it is the right thing to do for the customer. More than any other kind of employee, the empowered employee is able to create a feeling of true customer service that ultimately yields much greater customer loyalty.”
What can an organization do to empower their employees? Here are a few things that leadership needs to consider.
Empower Them to Make The Right Decisions
Ever engaged with a sales rep or a customer service agent who stated, “I will have to go and check with my manager before I can do that.” Nothing speaks louder about a lack of empowerment than that one phrase.
Organizations that have set customer experience as a goal will empower their employees to make the right decisions on behalf of their customers. This involves trust (which comes with proper training) in your employees to do what is right and know that they have the customer’s best interests in mind. It is important to note that this trust does not come without accountability, it must, but giving them decision-making authority is crucial and the best way to empower.
I was once speaking to a VP of Sales for an enterprise business who told me he was not able to approve anything more than a 5% discount without the approval of the CFO. As he spoke you could hear his frustration in the shackles that had put on him in what he viewed as “a lack of trust to do the right thing.”
Micro-managing employees decision-making will not benefit your customers, as it will only frustrate the employees with which they engage. Train your employees and empower them to serve the customer as needed.
Empower Them To Create
Some of the most innovative ideas I have seen come from employees who are empowered to think creatively. Employees who are given rigid guidelines and structure within their roles will be severely limited and this lack of flexibility will trickle down to the customers.
Giving employees the ability to be creative in their roles will yield great benefit to your customers. It may be brought forth in how a rep structures a deal, how customer service responds to a call, or in how marketing delivers content and value to your customers.
I have worked with organizations that not only allow that, but create a culture where they award the most creative thinking. This fostering of creativity is not measured only by revenue generated, but in the feedback of the customers on how it made them feel, if it created a greater sense of loyalty or drive a greater customer experience.
Tapping into the creativity of your team and rewarding it will only provide better experiences for your customers and further endear them to your brand.
Empower Them To Take Calculated Risks and Even Fail
Early in my career I had the opportunity to manage a product launch for our company into a new market segment. I met with the President of our division to present the marketing strategy, as he sensed my hesitance he asked, “What’s the problem?” I told him, while I believed we were taking the right approach, in the back of my head I was worried if we failed.” His response told me all I needed to know when he said, “we all fail from time to time. What will be important is if we learn from it, correct the failure and use it to drive further success.” I was empowered!
While organizations should not encourage failure for failures sake, having a culture that allows for failure will encourage employees to go beyond their job description. Employees need to know that if their attempts to serve their customers fail, there will not be dire consequences and may yield greater learning in the long run
By Enabling, Equipping and Empowering employees for customer experience, B2B organizations will develop a competitive advantage with customer experience and see growth - within their employees and customers - as an outcome.