Have you ever tried to contact Amazon Customer Service with a complaint? I did and was left astonished. For an Indian working with Indian businesses, it came as a real shock – pleasant though - that my complaint was given a patient hearing, and the product was returned in a jiffy.
This specific product was listed as not-returnable so I was uncertain, but the cost was high for my comfort so I decided to give it a shot. The apologetic tone is something you expect from every customer-centric brand but deciding on a refund without the embarrassment of tossing a customer around various departments was what left me delighted. And made me to think why aren’t we Indians doing more of it in our business?
I can reliably say you must have faced this issue with a brand or retailer or online merchant or even your vendor - your purchase does not meet your expectations or is damaged in a very short time or something of that sort. Trying to bring it to the notice of the merchant is in itself a task worthy of a herculean effort; getting a refund is like winning the F1 by overcoming the hypersonic Lewis Hamilton.
Simply said, customer service executives are not empowered enough to offer that what a disappointed customer wants badly: Refund, Replacement, Return or Discount.
Imagine your customers too have to go through these kinds of frustrations. It’s a terrifying thought to just think about this as the worst seems so possible – a customer retreating due to a simple issue and taking the decision to move to your competitor.
There is a solution to escape this eventuality; a solution so simple yet hardly ever implemented. It’s called Employee Empowerment. It fundamentally implies authorizing your employees to take a decision on your behalf, without the need to call or take permission from a superior up to a certain monetary or other pre-decided discount or rewards level.
However the BIG deter about implementing an employee empowerment program is TRUST. Yet, the positives for your business are so much that you should consider empowering your employees as a proactive swing in your management strategy.
1. Lower level employees can address customer concerns better
For the clear-cut reason that they are the first contact with a customer, lower level employees ought to be more empowered to take a decision on the spot, without the need for asking the client to wait and ask a supervisor.
A customer has the right to feel hard done-by if her request is declined, and that feeling is difficult to erode. The effort should be to get round such customer interactions by empowering the lower level employees to offer discount, compensation or refund, up to a certain amount. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of headache your supervisors and you will save by this little tweak in your business.
2. Empowered employees can enrich the overall customer experience
Damage control is crucial, nonetheless really a small part of a 360° customer experience a business can offer. Empowering employees can unquestionably make a positive change once the employees realize they have the power to offer significantly more gratuities to an undecided customer to enable him in making the switch to your business.
Employee empower, though a desired goal, is still in its infancy and hence is not adapted universally. You too could face teething problems like giving too much or too little. Look at them as speed-breakers or stepping stones towards a more rounded experience. Like everyone, your employees too will learn from these quasi-successful experiences.
3. Employee morale and communications get stronger
Most people, when empowered to take a decision, show a remarkable improvement in their communications and confidence. You can further use this to your advantage by celebrating such employees so that it inspires other employees to follow the trail and make more efforts to enhance customer experience. The direct beneficiary in this scenario is your brand and your business.
Employee empowerment is your golden opportunity to collect genuine feedback on customer queries, frustrations and expectations. You can judiciously use the feedback to regulate your business strategy and acquire a fundamental competitive advantage.
Multiple researches corroborate that empowering employees to a certain degree of comfort for your business leads to happier, eager and gratified employees who are willing to put in extra efforts to help your business grow. What more can you ask of a person who is toiling hard for your success?
Open Mind Services Limited, a specialized Inbound Communications company continues to assist its clients in providing impressive customer service and delivering vital competitive advantage for more than 15 years now.