Why every business needs to give its staff autonomy

Giving your customer a great experience is not just about customer service. It goes far deeper than that. It’s also essential if you want to increase your sales and make your marketing budget go further.

The reason people don’t want to do business with organisations that aren’t customer focused is because it’s so difficult to do business with them! As a start-up or small business the last thing you want to do is make life difficult for your customers!

This is why it is important to understand that delivering great customer experiences is about the WHOLE customer journey.

From website design, product design, and marketing to finance, operations, HR, procedures and policies. You name it, and it should be linked to delivering a WOW customer experience.

Make it easy for people to buy from your business

Research has proved the brain hates clutter. The brain also hates complexity. This is why you have to make it really simple for customers to do business with you.

Make it easy and they will buy from you, AND they will recommend you to their family and friends. In this digital-age, they will also spread the word about their experiences to a wider audience through social media.

If you can get it right, this priceless word-of-mouth marketing will lead to increased sales and bigger profits.

A good example of this is the, ‘Yes I Can!’ policy developed for the staff at Radisson Blu Hotels, which ensures that all front line employees are given the autonomy to deliver a 100% positive experience to their guests:

“Yes I Can! is our special service philosophy that sets us apart from the competition. Being hospitable is all about giving guests your undivided attention and when guests stay at a Radisson Blu hotel; the hotel manager, the waiter, the receptionist, the porter – everyone plays a vital role in delivering a memorable guest experience.”

“At Radisson Blu , Yes I Can! is our company’s mission and a way of life which guides us to meet any challenge and identify every opportunity. Whether our guests are in Glasgow or Capetown, Beijing or Rome, they are assured consistently excellent service.

Start-ups should put systems in place to enable a great customer experience

Every start-up and small business should put policies and procedures in place to help their employees deliver a great customer experience.

For example, let’s look at accounting.

By using an online accounting system that allows certain people to access certain areas, the relevant team members can easily see if an invoice has been paid. This means that when a customer calls they can see the necessary information, feedback to the customer, and even re-send the invoice if required.

Imagine phoning a company and the person at the end of the phone knowing exactly which invoice you are referring to, what it was for, and when it was sent. And then when you say ‘but I didn’t receive it!’ the staff member sends it to you within a few seconds via email.

Think of the time (and stress) saved by both parties. This improves the experience for the customer and it works well for the company using the system as it saves time, making it easier for the staff to complete their work.

Empower your employees to deliver

Employee empowerment and autonomy is vital if you want to ensure customer experiences are consistently delivered at a high level. And outstanding customer experiences lead to higher profits for companies delivering these.

Many start-ups and small businesses don’t think about their policies and procedures and how they impact on the customer, and too few take time to check if these systems are causing a negative experience.

To run a successful business you need to make sure that your customers’ journey is as effortless as possible. And this means that you must empower your employees to deliver customer satisfaction.

In my experience, roughly 90% of employees that I have worked with, feel that the business policies and procedures they work with do not encourage or simplify the delivery of exceptional customer experiences. Almost all of them say they are frustrated by this.

How many times have you had a poor customer experience which has been exacerbated by the inability of the employee you are dealing with to do anything meaningful to correct the situation?

The, “Sorry there is nothing I can do, it’s company policy” response doesn’t leave you feeling great about the company, or wanting to do business with them again. And you certainly wouldn’t recommend them to friends and family.

Your staff are your most valuable asset

Remember; your employees are your most valuable asset. Not only can they help you grow your business by giving customers a great experience that leads to referrals and recommendations, they also often have first-hand experience of customer enquiries; so they know what works and what doesn’t.

They also know where the ‘problems’ are that can negatively impact upon their ability to deliver great customer care.

Companies that do not value their employees or give them the autonomy needed to deliver the desired customer experience, are the companies that often fail.

Your customer-facing employees often know what’s driving customers away, yet in my experience, some business leaders do not even bother listening to them.

Action checklist for great customer experiences

When I am able to deliver results within the customer experience work that I do for companies there’s usually an overwhelming sense of relief; “Finally, you have delivered what we have been trying to tell the boss for years!” is the most common comment I hear from front-line staff!

If you are serious about wanting your business to give customers a great experience, here are the action points to get you started;

  • Take a look at your company policies and procedures – do they help or hinder the customer experience?
  • Ask your employees for their feedback.
  • Actively encourage front-line staff to tell you about their own experiences of dealing with customers and ask them how it can be improved.
  • Most of all, give your staff the autonomy to make the decisions needed to deliver a positively memorable customer experience.

About the author

This article has been written for ByteStart by Dominic Kitchin, an expert in business growth and the founder of The Science of Buying. He has over 15 years’ experience helping business leaders and owners dramatically grow their businesses by understanding why their customers buy from them, and has worked with multinational corporations such as HSBC, KFC, Radisson Edwardian and ING.

More help on ByteStart

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