Alan's corner: Put your people first
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Alan’s corner: Put your people first

Alan’s corner: Put your people first

The biggest challenge for organisations is achieving consistency

To try to differentiate your business with product alone is just not enough anymore. Excellence in customer experience is the new battleground, and this applies to businesses in almost every sector. I see this right across the board in every country I work in, whether it’s in B2B or B2C. What excellence means will of course vary.

In my experience, the biggest challenge for organisations is achieving consistency. That means that every one of your customers, in every location, should get the same level of service – every single time. In your organisation, you should have an agreed approach for your team when looking after your customers.

People management tips
To achieve consistency, consider these steps in getting the most from your people.

Be clear on what is expected. Too often we assume that our people know what they have to do, how and when they should do it. But that’s simply not fair as ambiguity is often the cause of stress and confusion. We have a duty as managers to be concise with our people, to communicate our expectations and to outline exactly the standards we’re aiming for.

Train and re-train. When you train your team, it ensures that they have the knowledge and skills to do the job effectively. However, training is not a one-off activity. For example, although I was trained to drive a car many years ago, I’d possibly fail my driving test today. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad driver but undoubtedly, I have developed bad habits over the years. And another thing is that your business has been adapting to a changing world, and that most likely requires new knowledge and skills.

Give your people the tools and the resources to do the job. This means enabling them to do what you expect. For example, if we don’t allow sufficient time or provide appropriate IT support, how can they do their job effectively?

Give feedback. I truly believe that most people go to work wanting to do a good job. Personal pride and satisfaction matters to most of us. I’m sure you’d much prefer to know if your manager is unhappy with some element of how you do your job, rather than them building up resentment towards you. Managers should tell their people how they are doing, whether it’s good or bad and in need of some improvement.

Reward and recognise contribution. Financial reward that is appropriate for the job is one part of this. The other is to let your people know that they are appreciated for their contribution. Yes, I know they’re being paid a salary to do it. But financial reward is what is known as a hygiene factor. It’s a basic quid pro quo for doing the work. However, great leaders know that they can get much more loyalty, commitment and productivity from their people when they treat them with respect.

The last word
While product and place are of course important in the overall customer experience mix, it should be relatively straightforward to achieve consistency in these two. However, the people element is a common denominator across most industries and it probably deserves a heavier weighting. For that reason, I think it is worth taking the time to agree on a consistent approach for how your people interact with your customers. Now I’m not suggesting that you create robots without personality. But if you use the steps shown here, you’ll move closer to achieving consistency. And that’s good for business.

Read: Alan’s corner: How companies can build their unique proposition

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