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Gestures of Trust Win Big Results

I was attending a breakout session on social media strategy at a customer service conference when the presenter asked, “Who allows their reps to have Facebook on their work computers?” Not surprisingly, only one guy raised his hand. But I knew immediately whose table I wanted to sit at for lunch. I wanted to hear everything he had to share.

Build Trust

Lunch was great, the conversation even better, and just as I suspected, Klaus Buellesbach, Director of Ace Hardware Care Centers, has an amazing track record of results. His quality results and other metrics are quite strong, and despite substantial organizational change, his center had no turnover for two years (with the exception of one retirement). Here’s his secret for building trust. 

Build from Within

"When I get into a new situation, I build a high-performance team with the people that are there. I never bring people from the last job along. I look for the gifts the current team has and build on it in a unique way. What this creates is big trust and some very different teams. You could never put all the teams I have led side by side and say, ‘of course this is the team that Klaus built.’" It’s not his fingerprints on the team, or is it?

Get Everyone Involved in the Big Picture

He asks big questions like:

"Besides running a contact center, what is it that we really need to accomplish this year?”

“What does a care center really stand for?"

He then trusts the team to inspire the vision. When the employee surveys come back, he empowers a team to discuss them over a seven-week period, so there is time to go deep. He finds they can usually implement most suggestions. That matters.

Be Humble

Klaus is a great example of confident humility. It’s all about the people and how he can involve and support them. "I want to know before I speak; and understand before I act. I ensure I understand the whole situation first," he said.

Know Your People

Start every day on the floor talking to people about things that matter to them. People need to know you care about them and their interests. This is where the Facebook thing came in.

"We have a number of parents in our center. We found that the school systems are starting to communicate through websites as well as via phone. Parents want to be able to check in. Most phones have data plans so pulling up Facebook is part of the routine. We support corporate social media inquiries in our center. It is a small step from there to allowing our team to keep up with their personal lives. As long as their quality and productivity metrics are good, we treat them as adults, and let them take care of their lives."

Look Beyond the Numbers

To build a world-class customer service organization you have to focus on the intangibles. There are lots of ways to measure customer loyalty, none of which are perfect. Klaus focuses on ensuring every customer is completely satisfied every time and doesn’t get overly excited about small changes to the numbers. In the long run, great service wins and the numbers work out.

Trust leads to engagement which leads to low-turnover, which builds competence and confidence, which creates great customer experiences, which inspires customer loyalty. That’s winning well.