Published: October 14, 2014 | Comments
It's often been said that customer contact employees are key to creating great customer experiences. There is a lot of validity to this statement as customers depend upon the person with whom they interact to provide a high level of service. In continuing the series on the necessary ingredients for creating great customer experiences, let's focus on employee morale.
During my management days, I expected my team to be ready to handle their duties every day. However, I also knew that it was my responsibility to maintain a high level of team morale. When employees are happy, they are more inclined to create happy customers. When one takes the time to understand what impacts the customer facing employee, one is in a position to create an environment conducive for high employee morale. Here are a few issues that impact the morale of customer facing employees.
Corporate Culture - When the culture of the organization is employee-friendly, morale has a tendency to remain high. Employee turnover is more than likely very low, which leads to highly experienced customer facing personnel. Does the culture allow employees to express their needs and or concerns? Is leadership responsive to these needs and concerns? Are core values in place that include the importance of employees to the organization's success? A healthy corporate culture is important to sustaining employee morale. Remember, your paying customer is the direct beneficiary of high employee morale.
Management Expertise - Oftentimes, managers/supervisors are placed in their role without the proper training. This can certainly impact employee morale as it leads to managers making decisions that may negatively impact their subordinates. I suggest that companies take the time to properly indoctrinate new managers/supervisors. Provide people skills training. Managers/supervisors should possess competent communication skills, have the ability to create synergy amongst their direct reports and be able to be the spokesperson for their team with upper management. When faced with situations that may negatively impact their team, managers/supervisors must be courageous enough to tactfully address their concerns with upper management. Make sure they understand how what they're responsible for impacts the rest of the company. Be sure to also help them to understand how the rest of the company impacts their responsibility. This knowledge helps managers/supervisors make good operational decisions, which usually leads to an improved level of employee morale. Remember, one of the most common reasons for employee discontent is the level of supervision provided by the front line manager. Make sure that this is not the case for your company by properly developing manager/supervisor personnel.
Objective Performance Evaluation - This is a major component in consistently maintaining employee morale at a high level. Employee performance appraisal should be based upon reasonable objective standards. The standards should in turn be built from a job description. A performance appraisal based on subjectivity instead of objectivity is a recipe for disaster. Employees lose confidence in the company's ability to properly appraise their performance, which leads to lower employee morale, which can certainly lead to employee turnover.
Make sure that positions within your company have a job description. Develop performance standards based upon reasonable expectations. In other words, develop "real world" performance goals. A sure fire way to antagonize employees is to hold them accountable to goals that you can't explain. The only way to develop "real world" goals is to spend time in the "real world". Determine what is achievable. Look for ways to improve the employee experience that will assist them in creating a great customer experience. Make sure employees understand what they're being held accountable for and be consistent across the employee base. Refrain from preferential treatment as this will lead to a drop in employee morale. Employees want to know that they are all held to the same standard.
Keep employee morale high in your company. Create a great Corporate Culture, make sure management/supervisory personnel have the proper level of Management Expertise and provide Objective Performance Evaluations. Your paying customer will certainly benefit from your decision to do all three!