Empowering Frontline Customer Service Staff Brings Rewards to Customers and Reps Alike
In the April issue of Customer Service Newsletter, John Tschohl tells readers that "empowering customer service employees to act as customer advocates, especially when things go wrong, can help build relationships with customers and save a company money."
(Boonton, NJ, April 25, 2012) — Do your customer service reps have the authority to make decisions, bend the rules, issue credits and refunds, and take other steps on behalf of the customer without getting permission from a manager or supervisor? If not, they are not empowered — and that could be undermining your customer service efforts.
In fact, John Tschohl, author of "Empowerment: A Way of Life," argues that empowering customer service employees to act as customer advocates, especially when things go wrong, can help build relationships with customers and save a company money in the long run. "Most customers are not very assertive," he says in the April issue of Customer Service Newsletter, "and when an issue isn't resolved to their satisfaction, they might just walk away."
Successful empowerment requires that frontline employees have a clear directive in terms of service recovery. For Tschohl, this means that reps must:
- Take ownership of the customer problem or issue and take responsibility for fixing the problem to the customer's satisfaction.
- Act quickly to ensure that the problem is fixed and the customer is satisfied in as short a time as possible — both to create a positive customer experience and to forestall any negative word-of-mouth that might be created by a delay.
- Act with empowerment. This involves being ready to make decisions to assist the customer and to bend the rules if necessary.
- Compensate the customer for the inconvenience. Reps must understand what they can offer that is of high value and low cost, as well as what dollar limits might apply — so that when they make a mistake they can use this tool to recover in the eyes of the customer.
More on empowerment and how to nurture it in your organization appears in the April issue of Customer Service Newsletter.
About the Customer Service Group
For more than 20 years, the Customer Service Group has helped customer service, call center and help desk managers increase productivity, improve service quality and boost customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention. The Customer Service Group publishes Customer Service Newsletter and The Customer Communicator.