Empower employees to be more customer focused

To become a more customer-focused organization, you need to give your employees the freedom to serve your customers in the best way possible.

Empower employees to be more customer focused

Key Performance Indicators

"In the past, help desks and service departments focused primarily on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like handling time," says director Hans Hylkema of customer research firm Customeyes. "In that case, an employee might try to pass off their customers as quickly as possible and connect them to another department when a difficult question arises. If the problem isn't resolved, that customer will call again and again, until he or she gets upset and complains. Those kinds of KPIs don't lead to customer-focused organizations."

Customer-focus culture

A good example of an organization that doesn't put anything in the way of being customer-focused is American online shoe and clothing store Zappos.com. Instead of measuring the customer friendliness of helpdesk employees with usual KPIs like call time per customer, Zappos asks its employees to promote the company through personal service, making sure each customer is given the attention he or she deserves.

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Billion-dollar revenue

Remarkable stories have been circulating about the company's impressive levels of customer friendliness. For example, director Tony Hseih recommended someone who was staying at the same hotel and was craving a pizza late at night to call the Zappos helpdesk. Even though Zappos doesn't sell pizza, the helpdesk employee found three pizza places that were still open and ordered a pizza for the caller. Zappos has a great reputation and achieves a billion dollars in sales. The company actually encourages employees to be in contact with their customers, which leads to more sales and higher revenue.

Courtesy budget makes it more fun

Following in Zappos' footsteps, many organizations have given their helpdesk employees more flexibility and freedom. One of the ways that's done is setting a courtesy budget per employee. He or she gets a budget with which they can occasionally do something special for a customer. If anything it can be good PR: Customers share their good experiences on Facebook and other social media channels. KLM is another company that understands how to motivate customer-friendly employees. Their web care team has the permission to navigate the company's protocols and procedures in order to satisfy their customers. That's how it happens that a customer tweets: "I've been waiting in line for an hour and I'm so thirsty!" and an employees arrives with a bottle of water just a few minutes later.

The freedom to surprise the customer

To become more customer-focused, employees need more freedom to optimally serve and please their customers, without being troubled by rules, procedures and protocols. This requires the full support of the whole organization. Customers notice and appreciate that, and show that in terms of purchases and return visits, as well as telling others how great their experience was. That then leads to employees who are proud and find more satisfaction in their work, which makes them feel more involved in the organization than ever before.