I ran across an old article in Harvard Business Review titled “Reinventing Customer Service: How T-Mobile Achieved Record Levels of Quality and Productivity”. Every organization needs to deliver a certain level of customer service. You don’t have to be T-Mobile to be concerned about making customers happy. And as the title of today’s article says, it takes creating engagement in order to make that happen.
Back to the T-Mobile case study. There were five big takeaways for me in reading the HBR article. And it made me wonder if, when we’re talking about employee engagement strategies, should we consider customer service?
- Changing the way employees deliver customer service involves a change in culture. I really wish the T-Mobile case study would have spent more time on this aspect. Toward the end of the article, they quoted a senior executive discussing the need to check cultural readiness because it has an impact on future decision making where customers and customer service are concerned.
- Reach consensus on the metrics that will be used to measure success. One of the key metrics that T-Mobile uses is Net Promoter Score (NPS). It’s a measurement that tells the organization how they’re doing in terms of customers feeling comfortable recommending them to others. Your organization might want to use the same metric OR maybe something else. The important part is that everyone needs to be all in with the way customer service will be measured.
- Create a work environment that allows employees to deliver excellent customer service. I’m talking about both physical office space as well as policies and procedures. Employees that are uptight and stressed out aren’t going to deliver good customer service. And anyone who has been given the run-around as a customer knows that it takes empowering employees and strong employee engagement to solve problems and offer solutions to make customers happy.
- Reward employees for excellent customer service. When employees do something great, let them know. When their quick thinking saves an account, thank them. If an employee figures out how to delight customers without spending a lot of money, reward them. That helps grow employee engagement. Organizations should set customer service performance expectations, monitor employee behaviors, provide feedback, and coach when necessary.
- Review the customer service aspect of the company’s hiring requirements. You might be thinking “Why not do this first?” I know I was as I was reading the article. But T-Mobile chose to address their current situation (and current employees) then talked about what to do moving forward. This goes back to #1 about changes in culture. Organizations should change the culture then address what it means for future hires.
A clear benefit of an engaged workforce is better customer service. But in order to create employee engagement, organizations need to examine their current customer service standards, policies, procedures, and metrics. To me, that’s the point of the T-Mobile case study. We can’t simply change one (i.e. engagement) and hope that other (i.e. customer service) just happens. To be effective, it’s a coordinated effort.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring Disneyland in Anaheim, CA15