Vol III: Clarifying Expectations

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If you are following this blog then you know that so far we have discussed the importance of defining and communicating our “True North”, and we have examined the employee experience by asking 6 important questions. Let’s look at the first of those questions:

Do employees have clear expectations of what you want from them?

Do your employees know:

  • how to deliver the customer experience you envision?
  • what you want them to say?
  • how you want them to act?

Here’s an example:

There is a clothing store I frequent and when I enter the store a sales associate welcomes me. Sounds great, right? However, during most of my experiences there, the sales associate is somewhere stocking or folding and maybe even behind a display. So, when I walk in and hear someone welcome me and I can’t see that person, I feel confused instead of warmly greeted.

It may sound insignificant to include a training detail like: “when greeting, be someplace where the customer can see you”, but the sales associate is probably being told that their priority is to keep the displays neat and folded. Ultimately the sales associate is attempting to greet every customer, but are they doing it so that your business is getting the impact, or experience you were hoping for?

We often expect everyone on the team to “get it” but the truth is only some people have the natural ability to make others feel valued and important. For the rest, we have to be very clear on what that looks, sounds, and feels like.

Take a moment to review this list of face-to-face behaviors and take the time to determine if you have clearly defined these for your team:

  • Initial greeting –
    • What does “welcome” sound like? Formal or casual? Is it scripted or can the employee ad-lib?
    • How close should they be when they make eye contact? 10 feet away, 5 feet away, as soon as the customer enters the establishment, etc.
    • Is there anything else necessary to convey the experience you want your customers to have? Body language, facial expression, tone of voice?
  • Initial Interactions
    • What do you want to communicate in the first contact? Specific information or just the general culture?
    • Should the employee initiate the communication, or start by listening and responding appropriately
  • Customer Satisfaction
    • Do your employees know what they are empowered to do for a customer?
    • If a customer has a specific request beyond what the employee is empowered to do, how should they handle it?

Take the time to define these behaviors for your employees and you can save yourself the coaching and correcting and the business will benefit from the clarification.

What are your thoughts… please join the conversation.

 

 

SE II: You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until It’s Gone

609-employee-satisfaction-billboardI am lucky to call some amazing women my friends.  On a recent evening out, one of these amazing friends shared her story of leaving a company she was at for 10 years after being recruited within her industry.  On her last day she was told she is on the short list for a promotion and they offered her more money to stay.

Another smart woman at the table, a lawyer, shared that when she left her firm in NYC to move to Chicago, again after being recruited by another firm, she was offered junior partner to stay.

So why didn’t either of these companies make their appreciation for these employees known prior to them being wooed by another?

Do you feel appreciated at work?  Are you having conversations about your next steps?  Are you having conversations with your employees (if you have direct reports)?

You may think your team will stay with you even without praise or advancement… but when there’s a knock at the door, what do you think they would do?

So, employers: Make it a practice to give regular feedback to your employees.  Be honest, even if it’s not all good, chances are by building awareness you’ll get better performance.  Also, be fair in terms of compensation. If you are willing to pay more to keep someone after they tell you they are leaving, would you be willing to pay to show your appreciation for their continued loyalty (before someone else comes calling)?

 

Vol II: Setting the Stage

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In my last article, we discussed the importance of clarifying expectations by defining and communicating the company’s “true north”, the directional vision your employees can look to in order to better understand performance expectations.

Clarifying expectations and communicating them effectively is the start to a successful employee and customer experience.  It is equally important to create the right employee environment.  The time we spend at work often outweighs the time spent with friends and family.  To have a team work together successfully they should feel valued, respected, recognized, and there must be trust.

Over the years, I’ve heard leaders say things like, “they get paid to do that, why should I recognize employees for doing their job?”, and “we don’t have time to do anything extra, it’s just too busy”, and worse, treat employees inconsistently – unintentionally playing favorites.

From the outside looking in these statements seem ridiculous – how can a leader think this way?  It’s really not that surprising… when we specify our goals in terms of getting the job done, money, time, and efficiency, our leaders respond to those priorities.  For those leaders who have trouble multi-tasking and have trouble with empathy, how we treat our co-workers can take a dead last in comparison.

Building a strong employee culture, environment, and experience is not easy because it may require change, but understanding where you are today and where you need to get to is a good first step.  In determining if the employee environment has a strong foundation, you may have to do some corporate-soul searching:

  1. Do employees have clear expectations on what you want from them?
  2. Do your employees have trust in your leadership team? What is the relationship between leaders and frontline employees?
  3. Are conditions for employees valued – should they be improved or innovated?
  4. Do employees feel recognized when they do a good job?
  5. Do employees feel empowered to help customers? Do they have the tools to do so?
  6. Does accountability exist so that employees feel like everyone is treated fairly?

These are some of the questions you can ask yourself and leadership team to determine if you have a strong foundation for your employees.  If you are a customer-facing (frontline) employee, what would your responses be to these questions about your workplace?

What are your thoughts… please join the conversation.

SE I: The Post Office Experience

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I took this picture at the post office while I was waiting in line.  You might notice the little “thank you” at the bottom right of this sign.

Your company may spend tons of money and time on perfecting aesthetics, design, and the “welcome” you want to show your customers when they enter your space… but do you have employees sabotaging that effort – maybe unintentionally?  How often do you view your work spaces through the eyes (and feelings) of your customers?

Vol I: Supporting Your Brand… Defining True North

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This week’s article is the first, so I had to really think about where to start.  The best place to start is at the beginning, right? So, I want to start with building a foundation and for me, that is defining who you are and clarifying the expectations you have for delivering what you want.  This week’s article on defining “True North” helps not only leaders but all employees ask important questions to determine if their company has clearly defined and communicated those expectations.  Please share your experiences as well!  

Every company has a ‘brand promise’ – whether they spend a lot on marketing or it’s a small local business.  It’s the expectation you set for your customers.  The challenging part is getting a group of people – the employees – to fulfill that promise.  This may be achieved by developing an internal vision or “True North” – a direction that everyone understands, can follow, and deliver against.

Companies that meet or exceed their customer’s expectations consistently and have a healthy employee culture usually have clearly defined their ‘true north’ and communicated it to their employees effectively.  Each member of the team must understand their individual role and responsibilities in delivering a customer experience consistent with the company’s brand.

Does this sound like your company?  If not, here are some questions you could be asking:

  • Do you have a shared vision or purpose that articulates for all employees what your brand promise looks, feels, smells or even tastes like so they can deliver consistently to your customers?
  • Are your goals clear internally so every employee can be successful in achieving those goals, no matter how big or small their role?
  • Is the directional vision – or True North – a clear and easy to understand vision to help your team achieve the company’s goals?
  • Is your internal messaging easy to remember, worth buying into, simple to perform to, and motivating to the staff?

Defining and communicating your company’s direction is the first step.  Importantly, communication should come from the entire leadership team, starting from the top.  Although grassroots efforts are admirable and in some ways effective, messaging is more powerful and sustainable if the leadership buys in, supports, and communicates it from the start.

 

What are your thoughts… please join the conversation.