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helloThe Impact Of Performance Goals On Customer Service
The Impact Of Performance Goals On Customer Service

Does this sound familiar? “I can’t possibly complete all of this work and meet the goals to receive a raise. It just doesn’t seem fair. I don’t think management understands what it takes to actually do this job”. Employees today are experiencing more stress than ever in this era of economic uncertainty.

It’s very important to align workload and performance goals for long-term positive employee morale, long-term profitability, and long-term productivity. Your customers (both external and internal) are impacted by your performance goals. Here are a few issues to consider.

Performance Goals – Is That The Right Number?

When establishing performance goals, take into consideration the total process required for task completion. Base goals on outcomes over which the employee has control. Where the employee has accountability for additional tasks, factor this into goal setting for the employee’s primary responsibility.

This will lead to setting realistic goals. Spend time with the employees as they actually perform their duties to get a “real world” feel for what it takes to perform the job. Include the employees who actually perform the job in establishing goals. An environment of mutual respect will exist as the employees will feel that they were able to participate in creating their own goals.

The level of service provided to the customer is higher when employees are not overly concerned and stressed out daily about meeting performance goals. Taking these steps has a three-fold effect: 1. Improvement in employee morale. 2. You may be able to create a better process. 3. You should be able to determine if the stated goal is the right goal.

Quality Vs Quantity – Which Is Primary?

Does your reward system encourage quality work? A reward system based on unrealistic performance goals tends to promote quantity over quality. As employees struggle to meet the stated goals, quality will surely suffer as shortcuts become the norm in completing tasks.

This can lead to poor work audit results, rework (how much does this cost at your company?), and customer dissatisfaction. Employees are prone to display a sense of hurriedness when interacting with customers if the workload and performance goals are not balanced.

Those employees choosing quality over quantity will become frustrated as their efforts to perform the job properly are rewarded with inquiries regarding their inability to reach the stated goal. In the quantity-over-quality environment created by unrealistic performance goals, long-term productivity is sacrificed for the short-term goal.

Focus on systemic thinking and make this a high priority when designing reward systems. Reward actions that insure fluid cross-functional handoffs. This helps to build a culture of holistic, systemic-minded employees who understand the impact of their work on the product/service system.

Work Environment – Is This A Healthy Place To Work?

It is very important to create a positive work environment as your bottom line is directly impacted by employee morale. An environment where performance goals are fair and obtainable fosters an atmosphere of teamwork as employees do not feel the need to protect their “numbers”.

Unrealistic goals lead to either unwillingness – for fear of not meeting their own goals or inability – due to unrealistic workload – to truly work as a team. Long-term employee frustration usually results in a lower quality of work which ultimately impacts the external customer.

Stress levels increase possibly leading to health issues. Employee turnover increases, as well as some, will seek relief from an atmosphere they deem unfair and unhealthy.

This directly impacts your bottom line as the level of customer service delivered suffers via productivity lost to the need to hire and train new employees. How much does a dissatisfied customer cost your company? Promote employee quality of life versus the “my work is my life” mindset. Give employees a reason to feel good about coming to work.

Performance goals and reward systems are key components of the business environment. Strive to base both on a “real world” workload. Your long-term success depends on it.

Your customer will feel the impact of performance goals and the workload. Balance these two in order to insure that the customer is positively impacted and gets great customer service.

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helloEmployee Morale Does Create Customer Experiences
Employee Morale Does Create Customer Experiences

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 to 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 roles 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 on reasonable expectations. In other words, develop “real world” performance goals. A surefire way to antagonize employees is to hold them accountable for 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! For more insights on improving morale, see this article “How to Improve Employee Morale and Job Satisfaction”.

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helloAre Your Customers Tweeting About You
Are Your Customers Tweeting About You?

While doing a little test on what customers are saying live on Twitter regarding customer service, I noticed that while a multitude of complaints was “Tweeted”, they were very few responses from the company in question.

Some of these companies are household names! It was as if all of the negative comments were visible for all to see, yet no one within the organization was even aware of the remarks. Imagine the damage being done to the brands of these organizations by not responding live to start a conversation to address the concern.

It’s important to know and respond to what your customer is “Tweeting” about your organization. I would think it’s important for prospective customers to see that someone within your organization is on top of the complaints and is seeking to engage with the complainant.

Imagine the points “scored” by your organization in the eyes of current and prospective customers when they see that you’re on top of the situation. Ready and responsive! Those are two keywords regarding customer complaints. Be ready and available for customer complaints and then respond quickly when one is received.

Just as the complainant has placed an issue with your organization in front of the Twitter nation, respond in front of Twitter nation by inviting the complainant to contact your organization directly (provide the appropriate contact info) for a resolution. I have seen complainants “Tweet” about how happy they were that their issue was addressed and resolved.

Some organizations may feel that it’s not necessary to monitor Twitter for customer service-related issues. I say think again! If the average person utilizing Twitter has let’s say 400 followers and perhaps 20% of those followers actually see the posted complaint, that’s 80 people.

Now if these 80 people retweet the complaint to their 400 followers and again 20% see the retweet, that’s 80 more people who are now aware of a customer complaint against your organization. This can quickly get out of hand. By responding live to the issue, these same people may be made aware of your organization’s attempt to resolve the issue.

Believe it or not, customers still love to talk about their experiences. Social media provides an additional avenue for them to utilize to express both their satisfaction and dissatisfaction with your product or service. Just as you would respond to a customer’s face-to-face or over-the-phone complaint, develop a strategy for monitoring and responding to Twitter complaints. Your brand is at stake!

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hello
I Just Wanted To Renew My Vehicle Registration!

Recently I visited a large well-known grocery store near my home to renew my vehicle registration. A simple transaction – or so I thought. After receiving the customary “Next in line please.” summons, I advised the young lady of my reason for being there.

Before she even asked, I gave her the information required to complete the transaction. She looked over my information and asked a question that I had trouble understanding because she was looking down at the paperwork instead of looking at me.

I said, “Excuse me, I didn’t understand what you just said.” She repeated what she said still without making eye contact to which I responded – “I’m up here, I’m having trouble understanding what you’re saying because you’re talking about the paperwork.” She then raised her head and repeated her question – this time with an offensive tone – “Cash, credit, or debit card?”  I advised her that this would be a debit transaction – no response from her.

She stepped away, retrieved the registration sticker, and stated “Go ahead and make your payment.” After doing so, she slapped the registration sticker and my verification documents on the counter. She then turned to walk away. I said, “Excuse me, you’re welcome.” I repeated my statement as she continued to walk away. You can guess what happened next – I asked the other clerk if she could get the manager.

It’s important to maintain eye contact during face-to-face transactions. This is a basic human interaction principle as it’s important to make sure the other party feels valued as a person. In this case, making eye contact with your customer also makes it easier to be understood. Make sure that the customer receives a pleasant experience, especially during face-to-face contact, by self-monitoring your actions.  Making eye contact, using the correct voice tone, and maintaining the proper body language can go a long in scoring points with your customer. By the way, on my way out of the store, the clerk and I crossed paths. She gave me this sullen look and I gave her my Secret Service stare.

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