CSP Happenings





Topic: Management and Culture

Positive customer feedback matters

May 24, 2017

Passionate customers tell you what makes your brand exceptional

Often, customer experience research focuses too heavily on business shortcomings.  Managers want to know when customers are dissatisfied, what caused their dissatisfaction, and how to fix the problem.  As a result, decision makers overlook positive customer feedback.  Managers expect positive feedback, and when it’s received, they don’t celebrate the occasion. Instead, managers continue to search for shortcomings in their businesses – they don’t want to be complacent, even if their customers are happy.  However, this oversight misses an opportunity: a chance to understand what drives customer passion and excitement.

Word-of-mouth advocacy is a powerful driver of new business, and positive customer testimonials received during customer experience research help highlight the topics brand advocates are most likely to talk about with friends and family.  To maximize the value of this feedback, businesses should ask customers the following questions about their experiences:

  • How does our service/product/interaction make you feel?  When a customer describes a positive experience, asking them about their feelings helps businesses understand the type of value their services bring.  Are customers relieved? Excited?  Do they feel in-control?  Understanding the specific emotions they feel helps businesses understand why a service/product/interaction is important, and what emotions are driving the customer’s behavior.
  • How is our business different from others?  When it comes to positive customer experiences, unique positive experiences are true brand differentiators.  Identifying those unique positive experiences allows businesses to replicate that experiences across their customer base.  Once the experience is consistent, that unique positive experience is a brand differentiator, which can be used to solicit new customers.
  • How does our business make a difference in your life, even if it is small?  Asking customers to relate a business’s services to their lives helps communicate those services in the customers’ language.  For example, customers might not care about the UX testing, which guided development of a bank’s mobile app; but they DO care that the app is easy to use and saves them time.  Managers and directors are prone to talk about the services they provide in their own terms – from the behind-the-scenes perspective, talking about the nuanced details of the services they provide.  Conversely, customer feedback vocalizes positive experiences in ways mangers struggle to verbalize, and their feedback provides a template for how managers should talk about the services they provide.

Beyond the benefits of analyzing positive customer feedback, the process provides a venue to build morale among employees and recognize their hard work.  By addressing positive feedback, employees are incentivized to continue (and increase) positive behaviors, which lead to positive customer experiences, because they know their good deeds are noticed and valued.

In 2017 and beyond, managers continue to look at positive customer experiences to identify, replicate and reinforce aspects of their businesses leading to positive feedback.  Once reinforced, branding/marketing managers use these competitive advantages to drive new business, while customers drive business on their own through brand advocacy.

Responding to negative customer feedback is important, but most organizations already do a good job at identifying their own shortcomings.  Many managers overlook positive feedback at their own detriment, and those who utilize feedback to create a model for consistent positive experiences will come out on top.

3 Tips for a Positive Workplace & Positive Customer Relationships

April 26, 2017

While you’re hard at work trying to maintain lifelong customer relationships, it can be easy to overlook the relationships among your staff. It seems obvious that a friendly work environment leads to greater productivity, decreased stress, less turnover and increased satisfaction—and in fact, research shows that this assumption is true. Happier employees lead to a more positive customer experience, as well.

A positive workplace starts with a strong manager. Start by surveying your employees to gauge their satisfaction. What do they really think about their job? Then try to build in the tips found below.

Boundaries

Clearly communicating your ideas and expectations at the beginning of a project save you from a conflict later in the process.

  • Try replacing open-ended questions like, “Do you want to start or shall I?” with “I’d like to start with x and then get your opinion.”
  • Create a space or time wherein employees can feel free to express their ideas and concerns safely. If confidentiality is important, consider using a comment box and then reading entries anonymously at meetings.

Customers benefit from companies that enforce clear boundaries, because they know what to expect.  Consistent results from a well-communicated plan of action go a long way to build relationships with your customers, too.

Gratitude

Everyone likes to know that they’re valued and appreciated.  Cultivating an atmosphere of gratitude can encourage employees and help them understand their integral role in the office.

  • Begin conversations by recognizing something positive your employee has done recently. They’ll likely be more receptive to suggestions or critique if they know you’re aware of their successes too.
  • Make sure your praise is specific and/or spontaneous. Let your employees know you’re paying attention to their work.

Have you ever walked into a bank and the teller was clearly miserable?  Your customers associate the positive and negative emotions they experience with the brand itself.  By ensuring your employees have a smile on their face, your customers will be smiling too.

 

Fun

Dale Carnegie, a famous thought leader in corporate thinking, said “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”

American culture often does not include “fun” as a regular component of the work day.  Work shouldn’t be fun, right?  In fact, incorporating fun into the workplace used to be more common with company picnics, birthday parties, and friendly office wagers.

  • You can maintain a professional atmosphere while still having fun. The key is to designate a time and a place.  Scheduling a regular happy hour can give employees something to look forward to after a long day at the office.
  • Assign “birthday cake duty” to one of your employees to make sure birthdays are recognized and everyone can take a sugary break in the afternoon for a slice.

Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re a burden to your employees.  Let people know that you’re working hard and playing hard on their behalf.  This gesture also goes a long way in humanizing your brand and service, further cementing lifelong, loyal relationships with customers.

If you’re interested in reading a little more on this topic, check out our articles on how to boost employee morale:

https://www.csp.com/encouraging-cross-departmental-collaboration/#.WP9ysYgrJPY

https://www.csp.com/10-examples-of-employee-engagement-in-action/#.WP91oIgrJPY

Deconstructing Company Culture: Q&A with CSP’s Brittni Redding

December 20, 2016

Meet Brittni Redding, CSP's Director of Client Education.

Meet Brittni Redding, CSP’s Director of Client Education.

With her background in both financial services and managerial/professional development, Brittni Redding was a natural fit to join CSP in 2016. As our Director of Client Education, Brittni has been instrumental in developing and supporting CSP’s Manager Development and Training solutions.

Brittni’s hands-on role with our clients, and her previous experience in a variety of training and coaching capacities, give her a unique edge. She’s keenly tuned in to what makes managers and their employees gel – and what doesn’t. Rather than keep her behind the scenes, we’ve invited her to share some of her insights as a facilitator and educator on all things company culture, here on this blog. 

How have businesses’ (and specifically, banks’) expectations of their managers and internal leaders changed?

In banking, there are typically clear measurements for what is being accomplished — e.g., loan and deposit volume, services per household, or the controversial cross-sell.  We’ve all worked with the “top performer” who rocks at results but leaves a trail of dead bodies in their wake to get there.  This sends the message that the organization accepts, even condones, a “win at all costs” mentality, which in turn affects culture and climate.

Most organizations are learning that beyond bottom line results, it’s important for Managers and Leaders to be held accountable for how they are getting there.  They should ask themselves: Am I inspiring my team to deliver exceptional customer experiences, or are they encouraged to chase a score?  Do I utilize customer feedback as a development tool to ignite coaching conversations, or is it a punitive measure? 

In your observation, does the topic of company culture get as much attention as it should?

Company culture is always a hot topic, but it’s hard to move beyond the rhetoric to action.  So much of it is founded in “unspoken rules” that developed over a significant amount of time.  Changing those requires a long, uphill battle of resetting expectations, maintaining consistency (even behind the scenes) and establishing buy-in from the top down.  To succeed nowadays, organizations must be prepared to act not only on the measurable performance of people and processes, but on cultural misalignment. 

I bring this into focus for CSP’s clients by helping them develop a unique “service climate” at the branch or department level.  Managers play a key role in fostering a service climate geared toward service through consistent communication, coaching, peer to peer feedback, and best practice sharing. That service climate is then owned at the employee level, based on their perception of what behavior is expected, supported and rewarded. 

What is the role of managers in facilitating changes and making training stick?

Front line managers are the most critical players in holding employees accountable for training concepts – but that training must also be aligned with organizational goals. I once facilitated a training session for a group of contact center representatives, on the topic of recommending additional products and services.  I employed all the adult learning must-haves: interactivity, robust discussion, activities, handouts, job applicability, what’s in it for them – everything!  During a call listening session after the training, I desperately waited to hear the reps utilizing concepts from the class…but it didn’t happen. 

Why? The front line managers’ objectives weren’t actually about customer relationship expansion at all, but reducing hold times through effective and efficient service.  I had missed the critical step of communicating with the most important link to employee accountability – the managers.  Now, before considering learning and development objectives, I like to run pilots or special manager sessions to make sure we are on the same page.  The combination of alignment and post-training accountability is a must-have for any change to stick.

Is there a common theme, idea, or truth about manager development that you think companies tend to miss or undervalue?

Too often, managers tend to focus on identifying and improving employees’ weaknesses, rather than investing in their talents.  What they don’t realize is that they can achieve the same desired outcomes (or better) with a positive, strength-based approach rather than the more conventional weakness-eliminating model. My belief in this mentality is what led me to become a certified Strengths Coach through Gallup.

Empower your employees to play to their strengths and affect the company culture.

Your company culture should empower your employees to play to their strengths.

This is something that has played out for me personally.  Discipline, execution, and all the dirty details have never come naturally to me, whether at work or after hours. I had a personal goal to get healthy and work out more, but none of the strict master plans putting me at the gym or on the treadmill seemed to stick. Meanwhile, what I am good at is the big picture view, coming up with ideas, and collaborating with others.  My friend encouraged me to join a tennis team, which incorporated more of how I’m naturally inclinedand that worked! I continue to do that for exercise to this day.  I’m accomplishing the same outcome of exercise but doing it in a way that I enjoy and that comes more naturally to me. 

Now apply this logic to a coaching scenario:  when faced with Bankers and Tellers who are more analytical than socially driven, some managers might try to correct this “weakness” and get these employees to be bubblier.  But a strength-based approach would have them instead apply their eye for detail to drive customer service – going into more detail about products, following up meticulously, etc. 


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Benefiting from the “Halo Effect” of Corporate Philanthropy

November 22, 2016

The holiday season often puts philanthropy and charity top-of-mind in the public consciousness. People seek ways to give back to the community by giving their time, attention, effort, and financial support to worthwhile causes, in keeping with the spirit of generosity that the holidays inspire. For businesses, corporate giving and other cause-related initiatives are not only good PR, but opportunities to engage the customer and generate positive sentiment to carry on into the New Year.

Consumers Reward Corporate Philanthropy …

corporate philanthropyCharitable activity reaches customers in a way that traditional marketing efforts don’t. When a business or brand publicly engages in something that is not directly self-serving, it gets special attention from current customers, potential customers, and the media.

One example in 2015 is outdoor retailer REI’s announcement that all 143 of its stores will be closed on Black Friday and encouraging people (and paying its employees) to “opt outside” instead. In this case, rather than a charity, the cause is the more abstract idea that quality time outweighs profit, and specifically, that the company is willing to forgo profit to “walk the walk” of its stated mission.

This clearly resonated with consumers: within 24 hours, over half a million people signed on to the #OptOutside sentiment on social media. It seems this sentiment carried over to the following year. In 2016, retailers made headlines for their decision to not be open on Thanksgiving, when just a few years ago, the opposite was true. 

There are plenty of other models for generating goodwill through philanthropy: hosting drives for clothing, toys, books, and food; offering matching contributions to charities; donating a certain percentage of every purchase, or giving customers the option to donate the register; organizing or sponsoring community events in partnership with non-profit organizations; and encouraging employees to give or volunteer. All of these can create a “halo effect” in customers’ eyes.

… But It Has to Be Authentic.

We’ve written before about the importance of authenticity to customers, and if anything, it’s even more critical when engaging in corporate philanthropy. Nothing leaves a bad taste in the mouth like the notion of a business using a cause simply to enhance its own image. You may have heard of pinkwashing, a term used to criticize companies who sell pink merchandise in supposed support of breast cancer awareness, without actually contributing much of value to the organizations doing the work. Because of phenomena like this, consumers have learned to be cynical or suspicious of brands claiming a philanthropic purpose.

So be prepared to have to earn customers’ trust before they’ll take your efforts seriously (and if you don’t, you can expect them to call you out!). Brandon Sawalich, senior vice president at Starkey Hearing Technologies, offered these five tips for engaging customers in philanthropy in an article for the Business Journals:

  1. Lead by example, with buy-in from the top down. Make philanthropy part of the company culture year-round.
  2. Invite customers to participate directly in the program, rather than just informing them of what you’re doing behind the scenes.
  3. Supplement the ‘hard facts’ – statistics, data, and information about your cause – with pictures, videos, and stories that show the difference being made.
  4. Provide tools and materials to help customers spread the word. These days, that might include an online option to alert a customers’ social media network when they make a donation or pledge.
  5. Empower customers to pay it forward, or to bring their own causes, ideas, or special cases to your attention and work together to look for solutions.

Do you have advice of your own to add to the list? Good or bad experiences with corporate philanthropy? Share them in the comments section or Tweet them to us at @csprofiles.

4 Lessons in Employee Empowerment, Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

November 2, 2016

chick-fil-a official logoMost consumer-facing businesses could stand to learn a few things about customer experience and employee engagement from Chick-fil-A. I recently connected with a friend and colleague of mine, T.J. Hammond, who works in learning and development at Chick-fil-A. I’ve enjoyed a knowledge-sharing relationship with T.J. for several years based on our shared beliefs in what makes a superior customer experience, especially as it relates to a company’s culture.

So I was thrilled when he arranged for me to take a few tours behind the scenes of their Support Center operation and share with me the strategies this quick-service restaurant (QSR) has in place to support their franchisees. To say I was impressed by what I learned would be an understatement. If I were going to get into the QSR business, I’d seriously consider Chick-fil-A, because of their attention to detail. No wonder this brand often gets referred to as an example of great customer service. They leave nothing to chance.

Here are just a few things Chick-fil-A gets right about employee engagement and customer experience:

1 – They Put Control of the Experience in the Owners’ Hands

Chick-fil-A franchise owners are responsible for everything that happens under their roof, including the service climate unique to that restaurant. Owners hire and train their employees and are in charge of their engagement. And most importantly, each owner has the freedom to do different things for their own staff to make sure they’re engaged and motivated. Instead of “we can’t/don’t do this or that because it’s not Our Way,” Chick-fil-A Corporate asks their franchisees, “What do you think will work, and how can we support you?” Figuring out how to address your own challenges is part of their culture.

Chick-fil-A trusts the people on the ground doing the work, and empowers them to make decisions and try new things based on their own observations. For example, some owners offer tuition assistance as an employee benefit, to help attract the best hires. It’s not an organizational mandate, or even a suggestion from on high; it originates with the owners, and the organization makes it happen.

2 – They Encourage Collaboration & Transparency between Franchisees

Chick-fil-A is very transparent with their customer experience data – which they track, across multiple channels, on a daily basis. Rather than pit stores against each other to encourage competition, Chick-fil-A wants its franchisees to feel as though they are all on the same team. They’re more than willing to support those efforts with data and enable owners to learn from each other.

For example, let’s say a store in one part of the country is struggling with breakfast sales and unsure of how to turn the tide. Chick-fil-A will gladly fly one of its top breakfast performers out to that location to give the owners face time and allow them to coach each other. They’ll invest in these mentor/mentee relationships because they know they’ll see a return.

3 – They Have the Training Chops to Support Employee Excellence

Chick-fil-A’s employee training is thorough, customizable, and designed around the behaviors and operational aspects that really matter to customers. Individual owners are encouraged to put their own touches on how they train their teams. At the same time, the materials, resources, and methods supplied by the organization are top notch. For example, they hire actors and run simulations of all kinds of different customer scenarios and challenges. Their employees are ready for anything, from cleaning the coffee filter to building the perfect sandwich to handling customer grievances. They also have an excellent New Employee Onboarding process, as well as supporting new franchise owners with a “grand opening” team for weeks to help them get off the ground.

4 – They Value Their Employees

Unusual perks like tuition assistance are just one way that Chick-fil-A treats their employees like people, not just worker bees. One of the most striking things I noticed during my tour is something I’m not even sure Chick-fil-A realizes is so powerful. Rather than calling people “managers” and “customer service representatives” and other generic job titles, they use titles like Leader, Influencer, and Stakeholder. These aren’t just empty titles handed down through a memo: their practices demonstrate that they really believe in these titles and take them seriously.

What Banks (and Others) Can Learn from the Chick-fil-A Model

Chick-fil-A clearly understands the connection between building a customer-centric culture and what that takes from a support standpoint. What can you do today to be more like them?

  • Empower your branch leaders to innovate. There is a time and a place for brand consistency. That ends when policies and procedures become so inflexible that branch managers feel their hands are tied, or like they can’t make suggestions for improvement or change. You’ll see a return on innovation if you actively support your managers to think for themselves.
  • Encourage collaboration over competition. Pool your resources – there’s more than enough to go around. Whether within a particular branch or between branches, managers and employees can all stand to benefit from mutual coaching and mentor/mentee relationships.
  • Keep your training engaging and current. Don’t be afraid to stray from the typical corporate training models. Be bold, be memorable, try new things. Be proactive, not reactive, and update your materials and resources regularly. Let employees make suggestions and lead initiatives instead of always handing things down from the top.
  • Give your employees what they want and deserve. There’s more to employee engagement than health insurance and retirement plans. Much more. If you want to attract and retain the top talent, and not just fill empty positions, go above and beyond the bare minimum that employees expect to find anywhere.

Not coincidentally, these are many of the same values and strategies we endorse at CSP. We’re proud to support our clients in creating and fostering a superior customer experience based on comprehensive, current customer data. Change isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard, either, with the right support and resources.

Jeff Dahms is Vice President of Research & Development at Customer Service Profiles. Jeff has over 12 years of experience managing and consulting to data for both internal and external clients, and has extensive experience in helping Executives focus on key indicators in order to achieve maximum results.


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4 Strategies for Encouraging Cross-Departmental Collaboration

August 16, 2016

Cross-departmental collaboration is a reflection of a healthy internal culture. When employees feel comfortable working together, communicate effectively, and understand each other’s roles and functions within the system, your customer feels the difference.

common obstacles to cross-departmental collaboration and how to avoid them
What gets in the way of cross-departmental collaboration? 
Obstacle 1 – Tunnel Vision

When employees get too limited by the tunnel vision of their own job descriptions and team functions, frustration often ensues. This is often the root of communication breakdowns and interpersonal conflict. For example, an employee might make an unreasonable request from another team, assuming it was a simple request when it actually created a huge hassle.

Solution

Cross-train. Offer employees frequent opportunities to step into each other’s shoes, job-shadow each other, or train each other. The idea is not to make everyone essentially interchangeable, but to give employees a basic understanding of how each department functions, individually and as part of the bigger picture. This is especially important for regular processes that touch multiple departments.

Obstacle 2 – Ineffective Meetings
Employees would rather watch paint dry than attend ineffective meetings.

According to the same poll, 8% of employees would choose a root canal.

One poll found that 17 percent of employees would rather watch paint dry than attend a meeting. Ouch. Face-to-face time is essential to healthy collaboration – or at the very least, being on the same conference line or web conference. But meetings have a tendency to clog up calendars, disrupt the workday, go off-topic or off-schedule, or otherwise not accomplish their objectives.

Solution

Meet more mindfully. Before you schedule a meeting, think hard about how to make the most of that time. Meetings should have designated leaders, note-takers, and time-watchers. An agenda, prepared and provided in advance, can keep everyone on track. And there should be a plan in place to follow up on the meeting’s objectives and action steps before they are forgotten. Be mindful of scheduling, too – make sure employees have a chance between sessions to make meaningful progress. 

Obstacle 3 – Social Silos

Consciously or unconsciously, each department can wind up so isolated from the others that it’s effectively in its own silo. Its members only interact among themselves and rarely cross over to other territories. The result is a series of micro-cultures that aren’t always compatible. Much like the tunnel vision that prevents employees from understanding each other’s jobs, social silos prevent employees from understanding each other, period.

Solutions

Celebrate together. Create opportunities for employees to socialize with each other, during and after office hours. For example, you might consider a casual gathering on the final Friday of each month, and rotate the duty of “hosting” this gathering between departments or teams. You can use these opportunities to highlight positive progress and accomplishments from various teams – but unlike meetings, these gatherings don’t need a strict agenda.

Uniting around a common goal is one of the best ways to break down silo walls. So another way to get groups to mix up or interact could be to introduce a goal or project that isn’t directly related to work functions. Examples include: a charitable drive, a company 5K team, annual outings, regular “Happy Hours,” or some friendly competition like a costume contest around Halloween. All of these can break the ice and help employees see each other as people, not just co-workers.

Obstacle 4 – Top-Down Direction
cross-departmental collaboration can't happen without the right leadership

Cross-departmental collaboration can’t happen unless managers lead by example.

Direction and leadership are not the same. Cross-departmental collaboration requires buy-in from all involved, including and especially the designated leaders of any given group. Otherwise, the entire effort feels inauthentic. Managers, after all, are just as susceptible to social siloes and tunnel vision as their staff.

The other side of this coin is whether or not employees feel they have a voice in how their departments are run, and in how departments interact. If they don’t feel they have an opportunity to raise an issue, ask a question, or be proactive, there’s little motivation to simply follow orders.

Solutions

This one is twofold. First, department heads should be modeling cross-departmental collaboration by regularly and visibly engaging with each other – and with each other’s teams. If they notice that their department is becoming too isolated or is hesitant to collaborate with others, these leaders should be the first to start building bridges, and not just directing others to do so. Second, you need a mechanism in place to effectively collect employee feedback, in a way that makes employees feel safe from any negative consequences for speaking up. CSP highly recommends a Voice of the Employee program to gather this kind of data.

 

Your culture is the result of your actions and your priorities. Cross-departmental collaboration is not the kind of thing that can be enforced upon your staff. It must be nurtured at all levels of the organization, with deliberate intention, even when other priorities seem more immediately urgent.


More reading on this topic:

Employee Training: All at Once, or One at a Time? It Depends

July 13, 2016

Employee training is pulling away from the model of slideshows in a dark conference room with stale bagels. Because attention spans and time are both in short supply, training must cut to the core issues and deliver worthwhile solutions – or in other words, you need to know what you’re doing and do it well.

Companies, on average, do not allocate much of their budgets to employee training – a little more than $1,200 and about 30 hours per employee each year. Instead of seeing this as a cost, treat it as an investment.  So, do you diversify your investment by plugging into individuals? Or do you put all your eggs in one basket by focusing on full enterprise training?

graph-963016_640Data instantly pinpoints weak links.

If you’re not sure where to start, look at the stats. Using comprehensive data, like the extensive reports provided by CSP, you can develop or choose beneficial team training programs. The data highlights the areas of concern, be it employee performance or customer satisfaction, and zooms in on detailed aspects with matching metrics.

Now you know not to spend time on teaching key phrases and language, for example, but improving listening and critical thinking abilities. More importantly, you’ll know if you need to address the entire team or pull someone aside for one-on-one coaching.

Team training moves everyone forward, together.

When employees are overlooked or employee training isn’t properly implemented, companies can experience dizzying unrest: high turnover rates, lack of engagement, dissatisfaction with other co-workers, low confidence and company pride, among other roadblocks.

Team training can open a dialogue between departments as well as junior and senior employees, thus developing a relationship more personable in nature. Ideal scenarios for team learning can include the following:

  • employee training for all or for oneNew material or technology
  • Changes in leadership
  • Continued education
  • Need to challenge complacency
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Fuel for employee loyalty

Team training sets a tone for the company. All of the gears and levers are oiled in a cohesive tune-up. But what happens when one little wheel keeps sticking?

Invest in the individual to see both a return and a contribution to the greater good of the team.

Think of a group fitness class compared to a personal training session. Unless the class is made of cloned robots, no two participants are wired the same. If one person is constantly falling behind the group, that gap is likely to grow each class unless there’s an intervention.

In a one-on-one setting, a personal trainer can take the time to check positioning and mobility, reintroduce basics that perhaps a client missed, and ultimately launch a game plan for the future.

As essential as training is for this person, so is following up with them and establishing an accountability system. Regular check-ins and feedback from the client are crucial for effective future training efforts. It’s up to the employer to recognize changes, improving the weak links and maximizing talent. The return on your investment could propel the entire team forward.

 

It’s unrealistic to know what each employee is doing or not doing well, and the impact of that performance on the team, without some guidance from statistics. Use data to outline a strategy that effectively combines both team and solo training. Customization based on your company’s needs will keep costs down and training, simplified.  

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Get more from your employee training efforts.

CSP’s customizable Employee Training program provides expert guidance, supports accountability, and promotes transparent communication. Contact us online or call John Berigan to learn more – (402) 399-8790 ext:101.

3 Steps to Coaching Employees Using Performance Reports

June 15, 2016

Customers often base their opinion of a company on their service experience, so you want yours to be top-notch. Proper training helps employees achieve customer service goals, which in turn provides motivation to continue doing well and to keep improving.

As you embark on coaching your employees to make your customer service experience even better, you want the training to be as effective as possible. The three-step approach below can help, combined with using employee performance reports that can guide you in knowing where to start the conversation, and what to address first.

To set up your employee performance training as a roadmap for success and help your employees achieve optimal performance, follow these steps during your coaching sessions:

1. Prioritize issues.

Avoid piling up a laundry list of all areas for improvement at once. Rather, start with the top issue that will help your employee improve customer experience the most.

manager development trainingEmployee performance reports can be used to analyze information that is customized to each employee. CSP provides several such reports. One that is useful in helping to identify priorities is the CSP Evaluation Summary report. This report can uncover patterns with its performance and satisfaction scores, and can quickly point out trends in an employee’s performance.

The Performance Criteria Scores by
Employee report presents all criteria questions for all employees at once. It can be filtered by employee and date, and can show if the coaching is leading to an improvement in scores.

Or use the Performance Issues report to see all criteria scores and which ones are scoring the lowest. Are your employees consistently introducing themselves to your customers? Are they using the customer’s name? This report breaks down each behavior with percentages to give you an easy-to-read chart that also can be explored in-depth if needed.

Focusing on one issue at a time helps you hone in on a single aspect of performance that you can come back to in the future, as part of an overall evaluation of your employees’ responsibilities and expectations.

2. Investigate causes.

Is coaching and training the appropriate response to an employee’s performance? To find this out, analyze the performance areas that are below expectation. Determining the root cause for low performance will help you establish next steps with your employee.

Once you have used the Performance Issues report to identify the area needing improvement, identify the cause for it. Is the performance problem due to awareness, resources, ability, or effort?

Use the chart below to review the actions most appropriate to each root cause:

Root Cause Action
Lack of awareness Re-communicate expectations and priorities
Lack of resources Help the employee secure the needed resources
Lack of ability Coach and train the employee to improve their knowledge and skills
Lack of effort Motivate or take disciplinary action
3. Give constructive feedback.

Your analysis using the CSP reports will not only have revealed opportunities for improvement, but also areas of strength. Use these reports to guide you in the feedback you provide to your employees. Positive feedback strengthens performance and motivates employees to continue providing good customer service or improve upon past performance. Keep these tips in mind when providing feedback:

  • Feedback should be balanced, touching on both strengths and weaknesses.
  • People learn differently so find a variety of resources to help each employee meet his or her individual goals.
  • To get the most value, both positive and constructive feedback should not be a one-time conversation, but an ongoing discussion.

Following these steps and incorporating reports such as those offered by CSP will allow you to continue increasing employee engagement. Help take your team to the next level when you take advantage of these tools and watch your employee performance soar.


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How Manager Development & Training Benefits Your Business

May 4, 2016

Professional development is an ongoing responsibility shared by both employees and their employers. However, managers and human resources personnel are often tied up in handling the paperwork of employment – hiring, firing, benefits, and grievances – leaving little bandwidth to focus on developing employees’ resources, talents, and career journeys.

Most businesses conduct some kind of periodic employee performance review, but miss the opportunities and advantages of structured follow-up and support. “Crisis” cases may get the attention they need, but middling and high-achieving employees can be left without a clear path forward to continued improvement.

Here’s the truth: Continued employee development can’t fall off the priority list.

manager development trainingThis is true for employees at all levels of the company, and especially relevant for managers. Managers are the cornerstones of a company’s internal culture. Their behavior, attitude, and ability to lead and nurture their team are directly correlated with employee satisfaction and engagement, which in turn influences the customer experience.

Off-the-shelf training materials and one-time leadership seminars are appetizers at best. Unfortunately, they won’t fill you up, and the effects tend not to last once employees are immersed back in their day-to-day duties. There may be a temporary boost in morale, productivity, and performance, but without continued support and attention, it won’t be long before they slip back into their comfort zones until it’s time for their next review.

Manager development is manager empowerment.  

In order for managers to effectively lead, coach, and nurture their employees, they must be nurtured themselves. You wouldn’t expect someone who lives on fast food and soft drinks to suddenly get up and compete in the Tour de France. Likewise, without proper “nutrition,” managers lack the supportive structure to deliver their best performance.

manager development trainingCoaching and training are not just about learning and sharpening skills, they’re about empowering staff to excel in each and every position, to collaborate effectively as a team, and to effect positive change in the workplace.

Empowered managers and employees:

  • feel valued by their employers
  • enjoy coming to work each day
  • are genuinely invested in the success of the company
  • resist the distractions of workplace conflict and politicking
  • are unlikely to look for other jobs, and
  • regularly engage in proactive, positive behavior.

These attributes ripple out to all areas of job performance. Even customers will feel the effects: customer interactions tend to go more smoothly, and issues get resolved more easily, when employees feel empowered to take action.

Development starts with data.

Collecting and evaluating data is essential to measuring progress and determining the effectiveness of a development initiative. It’s the first step of CSP’s Manager Development Training solution, forming a baseline from which to move forward with a targeted coaching program.

manager development trainingData also allows CSP to customize each program to each business. Every customer service climate will differ, even between separate locations of the same business. Within those climates, customer expectations and needs will also vary, and thus the key drivers of satisfaction and success along with them. CSP uses each business’s data to illuminate what those key drivers are, and tailor the Manager Development Training program to empower managers and employees to have the optimal effect on those attributes.

Consistency creates accountability.

What these customized programs share in common is a consistent structure of ongoing support. Not only does CSP create a path forward toward organizational improvement, your team also benefits from our years of experience guiding companies through times of change. Obviously, we want the effects of this training to stick, so change management techniques are reinforced from the top down throughout the training process.

As the program takes shape, we supply materials, conduct workshops, and regularly check in to evaluate progress. This consistent, committed approach to development is critical. It’s unlikely that managers will slip back into their old ways when there are measures in place to hold them accountable. Without those measures, there’s always the risk that other priorities, responsibilities, deadlines and duties will wind up distracting their attention from their job performance. That’s why leadership books and seminars so often fade from memory before companies can see the benefits.

There’s also something to be said for third-party objectivity when it comes to in-house matters. Managers commonly fall victim to a type of tunnel vision when they can’t see beyond the walls of their own office. CSP has seen it all, and we capitalize on that 30,000-foot view of organizational management to help each business navigate its own journey forward.

To learn more about Manager Development & Training, contact CSP’s John Berigan by email or by calling 800.841.7954, ext. 101.

 

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You Have Employee Engagement Analytics. Now What?

April 1, 2016

The ongoing cycle of customer experience success is comprised of four main influencers: Employees, Customers, Management, and Data. In this series, CSP examines the Employee segment of that cycle and the benefits of focusing on internal culture to drive success.

So you’ve been convinced of the value of employee engagement metrics. You want to see what can happen when you prioritize employee engagement. You’ve enlisted the help of an objective outside party, such as CSP, to collect information from your staff and learn what the key drivers of engagement are in your unique environment. Now what?

Data is the essential foundation of any strategy aimed at improving the employee experience. When you make decisions based on hard evidence, rather than personal opinions or anecdotal success stories you’ve read about from other managers, you’re already on the right track to effecting positive change.

Making the numbers “talk” is the next part of the journey. This is where evidence meets intuition – where data meets with the human touch. With an experienced analytical eye, the raw data begins to tell the story of your organization from the employee’s point of view.

Visualizing the Data 
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Our understanding of data is largely influenced by how that data is presented. A spreadsheet might contain all the necessary information, but often it takes a visual representation of that information for the insights within to become clear.

Bar charts, pie charts, scatter plots, and line graphs are among the most common, and most effective, ways of turning data into recognizable patterns. These days, it’s also not hard to find measurement tools that generate custom visualizations, such as CSP’s benchmarking dashboard gauges. 

BARLoyalty for websiteWhy does this matter? The exact same data can be conveyed in many different ways, and each will have an effect on how that data is interpreted. What you see is what you get; how you see it determines what you get out of it.

For example, pie charts convey percentages of a whole, while scatter plots convey the frequency of each possible response. You can neither get a bell curve out of a pie chart, nor deduce a percentage out of a scatter plot. And depending on what it is you’re measuring, a percentage may tell you more than the frequency, or vice versa. (We’ll be discussing the nuances of data visualization more in an upcoming post.)

Writing the End to the Story

Once the right match has been made between the data and the presentation, and patterns are revealed, the last thing you want to do is just sit on the intelligence you’ve gathered. Now is the time to start asking the questions that will bring this story to a satisfying conclusion:

  • What can be changed right now? While there is no “quick fix” to the overall employee experience, the data may point to one or two pain points where change can happen with the least investment of time and resources.
  • What needs more attention or discussion? Maybe the results of the survey were mixed enough that there is no obvious conclusion without a closer look, or the solution to resolve the pattern is more complex and involves input from other decision-makers.
  • Is there a larger scale cultural change that needs to happen? In some cases, the data may indicate that the internal culture of your workplace is in need of more than just a tune-up.
  • Is there anything that can’t be changed? Some things will inevitably be outside of your locus of control, or otherwise limited by the availability of resources to resolve them. What might need to change is how you address these sensitive issues with employees.

These questions can help you prioritize the drivers of engagement that need to be prioritized in your employee engagement strategy. With this information, you can begin to embrace change and reap the benefits.


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