Customer Service Begins With Employees


A picture of a hand hitting the start button

Dave Salisbury discusses the approach of two companies in delivering great customer service, highlighting how they could improve by adding a little extra focus on their employees.

During the last few months, I have been lucky enough to look over the approaches of two different companies and their training programmes up close and personal.

Both companies have struggled to adapt their training programmes for remote workers.

Both companies have started training remote agents, since the COVID-19 outbreak took a hold of the western world. Yet both companies have struggled to adapt their training programmes for remote workers.

While both companies have excellent credentials for providing exterior customers with excellent customer service, both companies are unfortunately failing their first customer, their employees.

Even though they have taken two very different approaches, they are both facing obstacles in engaging their remote teams and delivering great customer service.

The Two Different Approaches to Remote Customer Service

Company A thinks that games, contests, prizes, swag, and commissions are the keys to engaging advisors. But they have struggled in creating the necessary remote agent support systems.

Company B does not offer any additional compensation to their employees and, in my view, hasn’t paid close enough attention to helping advisors to create a productive work-from-home environment.

Company B … hasn’t paid close enough attention to helping advisors to create a productive work-from-home environment.

Both companies talk an excellent game regarding treating their employees in a manner that promotes healthy exterior customer relations. Still, there is no substance, no action, no commitment to the employee.

Company B has an exceedingly high employee churn rate. It discounts that rate because of employees working from home and not being able to take the loneliness of a home office atmosphere.

Company A has several large sites and is looking forward to having employees back on the call centre campus.

Find highly recommended approaches to customer service by reading our article: The Top 10 Customer Service Strategies That Stand the Test of Time

Where Exactly Did These Approaches Go Wrong?

When the conclusions for employee dissatisfaction were shared in both organizations, the question was raised: How does the leadership team know when the employees are not feeling served by their employer?

The answer can be found in the same manner that the customer’s voice is found, mainly by asking the employees.

Neither company has an employee feedback process to capture its employees’ thoughts, ideas, feelings and suggestions…

Yet neither company has an employee feedback process to capture its employees’ thoughts, ideas, feelings and suggestions, relying solely upon the leadership team to provide these insights.

Neither company overtly treats its employees poorly; Company A does have a mechanism to capture why employees leave the organization. But there is no doubt more they could do.

What Other Employee Engagement Problems Did Company A Face?

Consider an example from Company A. A new hire has been in the hiring process since January and was informed they were hired around the first of April but was also told the next start date/new-hire training class had not been scheduled due to COVID-19.

The employee is finally scheduled in for induction training in the first week of June.

Between the time of being hired and the start date, the employee begins taking classes Monday through to Friday, starting at 6pm.

But the employee is then informed that induction training will last until 7pm.

The new hire asks for help with the schedule, highlighting that the classes will improve their skills upon graduation and that the classes will only last for six weeks.

While Company A can be rightly proud of its games, prizes, food, swag and commission initiatives, the employee customer service fails to keep talented employees.

Company A’s response: either drop the classes or quit the job.

So, while Company A can be rightly proud of its games, prizes, food, swag and commission initiatives, the employee-customer service fails to keep talented employees.

This example is not new, and is not a one-off, unfortunately. The pattern is regular business for employee treatment, and as the trainer stated, there are always more people for positions than positions open, so why should we change operations?

Since January, Company A has been working unlimited overtime to fill the gap in open positions.

What Other Employee Engagement Problems Did Company B Face?

Company B informed all new hires that training is four days long, and upon completion, on-the-job training commences.

On day three, training is extended to five days, on day four, training is extended, and on Saturday, training is extended to a mandatory Sunday.

There are no excuses, no time off, no notice, and no reasonable accommodation is provided to make other arrangements for children, medical appointments, etc.

The new hire class has already logged 60 hours in a week that began on Tuesday…

By the time Sunday arrives, the new hire class has already logged 60 hours in a week that began on Tuesday.

Several employees are unable to make Sunday and are now kicked out of training, and will lose their jobs once HR gets around to giving them the axe.

Both Companies Lack Flexibility for Employees

Neither employers offer reasonable flexibility to employees working from home, as working from home is flexible enough already.

This lack of flexibility for employees marks the first area of risk: if an employee works for your organization, regardless of the attitude of employee treatment, reasonable accommodation is the law in many countries across the world – including the US.

Yet both companies were able to eschew the law and deny this flexibility.

Company B did it by not responding to employees after they missed a day of work during training. Company A did it by forcing the employee to decide without the aid of HR, claiming HR does not have any power in the decision of training.

A person shrugging with indifference

If the employer does not help its employees, that employer has no value, and the ex-employee is better off.

Now, many people will advise the employees that these companies are not the best fit for them. After all, “fit” into a new organization is more important than money. If the employer does not help its employees, that employer has no value, and the ex-employee is better off.

Yet the companies hired these people, went to great expense to onboard these people, and now must spend more money to hire more people to fill the gap.

Both companies will have to pay overtime and other incentives to get the latest new hires through training. All because of the disconnect between serving employees and serving customers.

Many business writers have said that the only customers a business has are its employees.

Find an interesting set of principles for increasing advisor empowerment in our article: What Does Employee Empowerment REALLY Mean?

4 Ideas for Improving Employee Experience (and Therefore Customer Service)

The following four suggestions are provided for contact centres that aim to put their employees at the heart of a good customer service proposition.

1. Decide what type of business you want to be and then act accordingly. No judgement about the decision is being made.

Just remember, the greatest sin a business can commit is to fail to show a profit. Employee costs can make or break employers and profits.

2. Provide a feedback loop. Employees are a business’s greatest asset, the greatest source of new products, new procedures, new methods of performing the work, and new modes of operation.

That business which does not value employees cannot change at all, ever!

Until the leadership team decides the employees have value, the business cannot change to meet market demands. That business which does not value employees cannot change at all, ever!

3. Be “Tank Man”. As a child, I remember watching the Tiananmen Square incident unfold in China. I remember watching a man standing in front of a tank and bring that tank, and several more behind it, to a standstill. Nobody knows this man’s name, but many remember his stand.

Be the example of world-changing customer service, even if no one will ever know your name.

4. Act; do not talk! Show your employees customer service, and they will conquer the world for you. Action might not mean spending any money. Showing someone you care is as simple as listening and then helping.

LinkedIn daily has examples of hero employees who do more, serve better, and act heroically, all because their leader acted on the employee’s behalf.

If you’re looking for more ideas for improving employee experience and engagement, read our article: Staff Engagement: How to Motivate Employees – With a Checklist

Final Thoughts

No longer can employers hope to treat employees poorly and still achieve financial success. Between social media and modern communication, the word gets out that an employer does not care about its employees.

A thumbnail photo of Dave Salisbury

Dave Salisbury

No longer can labour unions abuse non-union members autonomously.

No longer can a business walk away from social and community abuses with impunity.

The choice to treat people as valuable assets is a natural choice to make – choose wisely!

Thanks to Dave Salisbury, an Operations and Customer Relations Specialist, for putting together this article.

For more from Dave Salisbury, read some of his other articles by following the links below:

Published On: 3rd Aug 2020 - Last modified: 4th Aug 2020
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, ,


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