If Your Internal Service Sucks, Your External Service is Doomed

If Your Internal Service Sucks, Your External Service is Doomed

As an organization if you want to create the best experiences for your customers (and employees) the devil is in the details! If you want to create experiences that make your customers stay longer, buy more, and positively refer others, you must focus on the little things that will differentiate your experience from your competitors and this all starts with aligning your internal service cooperation. 

Create Personalized Interactions and Focus on the Little Things

“In creating service experiences, each one of us has the ability to make the little things the important things.” – Peter Psichogios

This means you must pay attention to every detail. It is important to manage the details, both for your employees and your customers, so that you can create personalized, authentic and friendly interactions each and every time. In the personalization economy, the little things are the big things. And it’s important to personalize the experience for both your employees and customers.  What I mean by that is, get to know your employees and customers more intimately, and treat them uniquely how they want to be treated.  This might be recognizing and rewarding an employee in a personalized way that motivates and engages them.  With a customer, this might mean asking them “how would you like us to serve you,” or listening to their queries and personally addressing their feedback.

A major blunder we see executive teams and companies make is that they do well on what they deem the important or hard things, and lose focus, do not pay attention, and have inconsistent interactions on what they perceive as trivia, detail or “the little things.”

Exceptional Customer Service Starts with Internal Service Cooperation

One of the hallmarks of every legendary customer service organization is that they first have awesome internal service cooperation. When you have exceptional internal service, your employees feel enabled and competent to serve their customers and focus on the little details.

Here are 7 Ways to Create Internal Service Cooperation:

  1. Stay Positive – have the same upbeat attitude with your internal partners as you could with your external customers
  2. Honor Commitments – when you make a commitment with a coworker, keep it!
  3. Communicate Often – The best customer service is create from high-touch, high-tech communication environments.  This is one area where it is extremely important to focus on the small details and listen.
  4. Negotiate Expectations – share how another internal service provider can better assist you in serving an external customer
  5. Step Out of Your Silo – Network with co-workers from other areas of the organization to understand the internal service workflow.  This is another area where the small details of understanding how your work effects others (and vice versa) will be extremely influential.
  6. Be Polite – treat co-workers with the same courtesy as you would customers, and help them be responsive and efficient to your external customers.
  7. Be Helpful – look for ways to directly or indirectly support a customer or co-worker.

We’d love to hear your feedback on how you implement exceptional internal service in your organization.

Have you seen changes your internal service make a difference for your external customers?

How do you focus on the little things (while also making sure the big things are taken care of)?

What actions do you have in place to make your internal service exceptional so that your external customer service can shine?

Reply in the comments below and share your best practices so we can learn from one another!

Get Your People Geeked about Learning

If you’re in the learning and development department, I bet a big part of your role is figuring out how to best disseminate information to your employees so that they can effectively use that information in real life scenarios and better serve your internal and external customers.

A huge part of creating this sort of effective learning that will make your employees feel connected to your organization’s goals and objectives, is finding the sweet spot of intersection between learning and engagement. Learning is one of the key drivers of employee engagement so it is important to capitalize on this with your employees and discuss where they are, where they want to be in the future and how learning bridges that gap.

Here are some ways you can get your employees engaged and geeked about learning:

1. Incent them to learn by recognizing them with rewards. It’s important to show your employees you are committed to learning by rolling their development into your engagement and recognition program. You can give employees an allotment of points for every lesson they complete or a larger sum upon completion. Or if monetary recognition isn’t your thing, you can use gamification and badging to set up leaderboards and start some friendly competition. Let’s face it, this gold star method has been working to encourage positive behavior since back in preschool.

2. Don’t give them too much information too fast. One of the top reasons why employees feel bored or overwhelmed with learning is that they get too much information, too fast. If you give them information in short, digestible doses, repeated and reinforced over time, they will be more likely to effectively process the information and feel encouraged to continue to pursue learning in the future.

3. Incent them to learn by providing opportunities for growth. Most people would rather be awesome than ordinary. Your employees want skills and competencies that will make them more marketable now while they are with you, and for where they want to go in the future. Not many employees want to stay stagnant in their careers. If you provide your employees with learning opportunities it shows that you care about their future at your organization. It is also important to create a culture where they can progress and grow into new and more senior roles. Have your employees shadow roles above them, and find opportunities for them to practice their leadership skills.

4. Have an action plan and accountability so they feel connected to the success. It is important that your employees are accountable for what they have learned and are clear on their learning objectives. Give them an opportunity to practice, drill and rehearse their learning in a safe environment, so that they know exactly how they can apply it with a customer. Then, senior leaders should have one on one conversations with employees about how they will apply the learning in real life scenarios.

A Guide to Being a Servant Leader

The most successful leaders focus on developing their team and enabling their people to be great. This means giving your employees learning and development opportunities and removing obstacles that get in the way of them providing great service for their colleagues and customers.

When you become a servant leader and focus on removing obstacles and developing your team to be extraordinary, your employees will give you their discretionary energy, motivation and engagement, which translates into better service both internally and externally.

Servant leaders believe that their talent would rather be awesome than ordinary. They understand that their primary role is to help their team excel with their customers, and that they won’t get there by micromanaging or being a bosshole. Read more about How to Identify a Bosshole here.

Here are a few guidelines you can follow to become a Servant Leader:

1.Focus on developing your employees.  Give your employees opportunities to learn and grow within your organization.  This will give them skills and competencies to excel with their colleagues and customers.  It will also show them that you believe in them and their future at the organization, which will motivate them to give you their energy in return.

2.Recognize and reward your employees. When you recognize your employees for a job well done, it reinforces a culture of appreciation.  Other employees will see their peers being recognized and will strive to do better to meet and exceed the expectations of their leaders and colleagues.

3.Provide direction and guidance.  It is important that you provide clear guidelines, expectations and direction for your employees so they know what is expected of them.  When they struggle with a project, be sure to give them opportunities to learn and improve by offering a helping hand, advice and guidance in how to best execute the task.

4.Get to know employees beyond the job.  When you get to know your beyond just their role in your organization, you will know what motivates them to excel, and you will be able to better personalize their experience and the recognition you give them for a job well done.

5.Be flexible with policies. Give employees the opportunity to make good decisions within the scope of your company values. It’s good to examine policies and procedures that are outdated and unnecessary.  For example, is a strict dress code holding your organization back from having a more casual culture? Could you offer flex time or work from home accommodations for employees who care for children or aging parents?

6.Communicate openly and effectively with your employees. When you make communication a priority in your organization your employees will feel valued and feel like their voice is being heard.  When you let them know what is going on in the organization they will be more dedicated to its future growth.

Servant leaders experience much higher levels of engagement and energy from their employees.  Plus, they are twice as likely to stay with an organization when they feel their leaders develop and recognize them.

Develop Your Employees for the Digital Kick Back

Technology is proliferating our business practices and all aspects of our lives and we have become extremely reliant on technology and automation to run our businesses efficiently. Yet, there is a digital kickback taking place whereby now, more than ever, customers want both highly personalized and high tech interactions with the organizations they buy from (and work for).

What this means for front-line workers is that they must be prepared for this digital kickback by providing their customers with personalized experiences that only another human being can provide, while also remaining as fast, friendly and hassle-free as their robot counterparts.

As an organization there are several ways that you can prepare your employees to become irreplaceable and create exceptional human experiences that your customers crave in this digital revolution. The principles that will protect their jobs from being automated by a robot are:

Being friendly & fun. Being friendly and fun cannot necessarily be trained, it is a personality trait that is engrained in humans at a young age. When you are friendly and fun with your employees and customers, it makes the interaction personal, light and shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously, but are choosing to create a joyful experience for everyone. You can encourage friendliness and fun in your organization by giving your employees the autonomy to make good decisions that reflect your company culture and values. And create a culture that embraces fun and isn’t stifled by too many unnecessary policies and procedures.

Being competent & committed. In order to be competent and committed you must first make sure that all obstacles that would get in the way of creating an exceptional experience are removed. This means thoroughly and accurately training and developing all employees to understand the workflow, what their role is in providing an exceptional customer experience, and how to execute any tasks that will be expected of them to carry out that experience. Then they must be committed to providing that experience, no matter what. When you invest in your employee’s learning and development, they will invest their discretionary energy back into creating an exceptional internal experience for their colleagues and external experience for their customers. And when you recognize and reward them for doing that, they will be committed to continue to create that experience at every touch point.

Being authentic, empathetic & hospitable. In other words, you must treat each individual employee and customer uniquely how they want to be treated. You must be able to empathize with their needs and wants and be able to authentically create a personalized experience that makes them feel welcome. This will create an exceptional experience for them that will create decades of customer loyalty.

Providing these personalized, humanized experiences for your employees and customer throughout the digital revolution is one excellent way to differentiate yourself from other organizations and be a winner in the experience economy now and for decades to come.

If you want to read more about the 7 Personalization Principles discussed above, click here and we’ll mail you a free copy of The Seven Personalization Principles: Learn the principles to thrive in these disruptive times.

How To Engage Yourself (When your Workplace Sucks at Engagement)

Are you in an organization that doesn’t really value employee engagement? Is there a lot of expectations put on you from senior leadership, but no acknowledgements or rewards for your exceptional performance?

Here are some tips and tricks to keep yourself engaged. And who knows, maybe your positive attitude and initiative will rub off on senior leadership and before you know it, you’ll have a formal program in place!

Start with a routine. When you’re unengaged it’s easy to be bored, and lose focus. But if you have a routine you can rely on, something you have made a habit, it’s much easier to just dive into the tasks at hand without having to use up too much brain power and effort to get yourself there.

Take breaks. Especially if you work in a physically demanding job or a sit-down office environment, it is important for you to take breaks so that you don’t burn yourself out. A quick 15-minute walk around the block or stepping out at lunch can really reinvigorate your body and mind for the rest of the day.

Ask for challenging projects. If your leaders are not engaging you and offering you opportunities to grow, create them for yourself! Taking on a new client? Ask to be part of the implementation or project team so you will learn something new. Find areas to improve the business? Prepare a mini report to discuss with your leaders. Always continue to grow and find new and better ways to do your work.

Step outside your silo. This is another way that you can learn and grow in your organization. Ask to shadow people in other departments so you get to know all areas of the organization. It will help you better understand the flow of work and how it can be improved internally and externally. If this is not a possibility for you, why not eat your lunch with someone from a different department where you can have casual conversation about what is and is not working and discuss ways you could improve it. Then bring it up at your next team meeting!

Be friendly, fun and hospitable. When you’re un-engaged, I know the last thing you want to be is friendly, fun and hospitable. However, these three qualities are critical for you to practice, even when you don’t ‘feel’ like it. I promise if you act friendly, fun and hospitable towards every person you interact with both inside and outside of our organization, it will improve your interactions drastically. You will feel happier from having a positive point of view, people will open up to you, and you will become an invaluable resource.

Celebrate your achievements. If you’re not being rewarded and recognized by your leaders and organization, make sure you acknowledge and recognize your own success and those of your peers. Complete a big and challenging project? Pop a bottle of champagne at dinner! Talk to your colleagues about their success, exchange stories and recognize and acknowledge each other. Peer to peer recognition is an incredible driver of engagement! It could be as simple as sending them a personalized thank you or recognizing them at a team meeting. And perhaps if this becomes a habit of those around you, leadership will eventually catch on to what’s working.

Want to drop the hint to your senior leadership or give them some engagement and recognition options?  Click here to learn more about our programs, plus you can book a complimentary demonstration of our custom solutions.

When it comes to Growth, the Coach can’t want it more than the Player

You know the old adage, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink?  Well the same goes for your employees and their growth and development.

As a senior leader, it is your job to provide opportunities for your employees to learn and grow, and to make their learning accessible, actionable and accountable.  However, if your employee is not engaged by your company and culture, then you can’t force them to learn and grow. Read more about how to engage your employees with Servant Leadership.

Here are a couple things you can ask yourself and examine to have better engagement in your organization:

  1. Did it start with your hiring practices?  I think today, more than ever, it is critical to hire employees for their interpersonal skills over their technical ones.  As long as they have basic abilities, many technical skills can be trained.  However, many interpersonal skills such as friendliness, fun, and authenticity cannot be trained, they are often ingrained in the person from an early age and they’ve either got it or they don’t.  Perhaps this person is just not a good cultural fit for your organization.
  2. Are they not engaged by your organization’s culture? This is where you can step in and re-examine your culture and how you can enhance it to make a better overall experience for your employees.  This might include offering better benefits, examining outdated policies and procedures (e.g. strict dress codes, flex time, and vacation policies) and whether they feel recognized and valued in your organization.
  3. Are you recognizing and rewarding them for their exceptional performance? If your employees were consistently providing exceptional performance but you did not recognize them for it, why would they even try to grow and give you their discretionary energy and motivation.  You can enhance this experience for your employees with both formal and informal rewards and recognition.  The best organizations recognize their employees at every touch point.  Non-monetary recognition is also a big motivator for employees, and can include acknowledging an employee at a team meeting in front of their peers, sending them a personalized thank you email or sending them a formal award certificate for going above and beyond their duties.  You can also recognize them with monetary rewards such as spot cards, bonuses, incentives, and points in their employee performance portal that they can redeem for merchandise and gift cards.

There is a critical overlap between employee engagement and learning development.  When your talent are engaged with recognition and enabled with skills and competencies from learning, they will be able to provide better service internally with their colleagues and externally with your customers, which will result in customers (and employees) who stay longer, buy more and positively refer others. Watch this quick video below for more information on the Intersection of Employee Engagement and Learning.

Why our Society Sucks at Engagement

Companies are continuously offering surface level forms of employee engagement to attract and motivate their employees.  The problem is, that their effort is half assed.   Organizations feel the obligation to do something for their employees, but their intentions are not heartfelt.

In order to not suck at engagement your intentions must align with your actions. Leaders who have the mentality of service and being a servant to their employees are the ones who will often find the most success with employee engagement (and also profitability).  Read more about the benefits of Servant Leadership here.

When it comes to engagement, intention is so important.  Your senior leaders must have good intentions and care about their employees in order to have engagement that is effective and creates significant change.  They must care about the betterment of their employees and creating an environment that they can continuously learn and grow in. Plus when you invest in your employee’s development with learning and growth opportunities this shows them that your care about their future at the company and are willing to invest in their future.

Part of this positive engagement isn’t using and abusing employees and pushing them to the brink of exhaustion. It’s checking in and making sure that your employees have a good work/life balance and manageable workload. 

Unfortunately many organizations and our society in general often focuses on measuring success by putting in long hours, working to the bone and making tons of profit.  But I can assure you that if profits are what you’re after, a lack of positive intention and engagement in your organization will tank your potential profits.

When you have good intentions with your engagement program it creates a trickle down effect.  The senior leaders role is to motivate and support their talent, their engaged employees will be happier, more productive and provide better service internally with colleagues and externally with customers, and your customers will stay longer, buy more and positively refer others based on their exceptional experiences with your organization.  Makes sense, right?

For more information about how to create this kind of meaningful engagement in your organization, get in touch for a complimentary consultation.

Is Your Learning Program Like Drinking Through a Fire Hose?

Almost every senior global learning or organizational development executive encounters the same challenges of delivering effective global learning.  Even with the billions of dollars invested over the last decade, most global eLearning is not effective, suffers from significant drop out rates and is either not engaging, too long or just plain boring.

Too many organizations focus on learning retention. However, I think the key to great learning is retrieval — being able to retrieve the content or the competency when you need it to make a difference with a colleague or a customer.

The mistakes that most multi-national and global companies make around the goal of creating engaging, effective and efficacious learning include:

Trying to give learners as much as they can, as fast as they can. I describe this as being analogous to drinking through a fire hose.   Think of it this way, if you planted a bunch of seeds and wanted them to grow, would you water them with a fire hose?  Probably not.  If you did, you would probably get lots of flooding, a muddy mess and maybe some patches of growth here and there.  But, it you used drip irrigation or a sprinkler to water your seeds consistently over time, you would have nice, even growth and you wouldn’t have to go back later and replace the seeds that were destroyed in the flood.  This is similar to the traditional learning and training we see in many companies that takes employees off of the job for large chunks of time and tries to give them all of the information they can pack into a couple days.  They often cannot retain all of this information so quickly and won’t be able to effectively put all of their learning into action.

Doing a poor job of converting their instructor led content to an eLearning or mobile learning environment.  Almost no one, unless it is mandatory, will watch a boring eLearning module with a talking head for 40, 50, 60 minutes or more. Especially if this content is subtitled or voiced over. It is not because the content isn’t good or helpful. It is because it is delivered in a way that is guaranteed NOT to produce a sustainable change or result.

Spending too much time, energy and effort on designing and delivering the learning and not enough time is spent on following up, reinforcing and implementing the learning.

The key to inverting these challenges is a learning model that focuses on repetition, practice, and reinforcement with built in action planning and accountability to put the learning into action.  This type of learning can be compared to a sprinkler or drip irrigation system, whereby you drip in the learning slowly, consistently and spread out over time.

For example, GES’s Layered Learning solutions take the learner only 15- to 20-minutes per week and has built in reinforcement and tracking. The layered learning model is ideal for any organization that has a hard time taking employees off the job for large chunks of time.

The cumulative effect of layering in skills over time is significant, but what our customers have told us is that the process was not cumbersome or burdensome and a whole new set of tools showed up in their tool box almost seamlessly.

Each module structure is identical and contains the following sections:

The simple elegance of the layered learning model and the use of repetition, reinforcement and action planning are the key contributors to the documented ROI it has helped produced worldwide for our clients.  And of course, the fact that each module is produced with every spoken and written word delivered in the learner’s local language with cultural personalization.

Find out more about our Layered Learning Solutions here or schedule a free consultation today.

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