Customer Radar Blog

How to empower Christmas staff to be customer-loving

06 December 2017

Sales volumes double, even triple. Stock is flying off the shelves, and you’re staring down the barrel of making a third of the company’s annual revenue within a six-week period. How do you know if you have the right people?

One of the biggest challenges of Christmas time is the necessary increase in staff numbers, caused by a massive spike in demand across most industries. Amidst all the mayhem of operations, it can be difficult to manage these short-term staff, who often don’t have as much motivation to produce excellent work. Thankfully, there’s a straightforward way to negate this challenge.

Building an organisation that has a culture built on the customer is the answer. Your customer knows what is working, and what needs to change. This information is very valuable, and can be used for coaching, behaviour reinforcement, and creating competition to solidify your culture of improvement. Ultimately, this leads to a strong culture to which new staff conform, driving performance and getting more out of your short-term staff. Here’s a closer look at how to implement this culture.

Set customer experience expectations up front

Critical to building a culture based of the customer first is creating an expectation from day one. This is particularly important with new staff who may have come into your business from other environments, which don’t necessarily place such a high value on customer experience.

One of the best ways to impress upon new staff that the customer is most important in your organisation is simply to provide them with visibility of customer feedback on their first day. Rather than constantly espousing about the value of experience, it’s much more powerful sitting down and saying “Kevin, we’ve just received some feedback from a customer about your service. You helped them find the product they were searching for, and you were very helpful and polite.” It’s safe to say that an interaction like this will quickly make new staff realise the voice of the customer is alive within your organisation, and they have the power to influence it positively.

Ultimately, when your team understand the customer has a voice, and your organisation is one that listens to that voice, their approach to service will be entirely different.

Do more of what your customers love

At the end of the day, successful business is about doing more of what your customers love, and less of what they don’t love. Naturally, this starts by building a strong culture of creating a great customer experience every time, to identify what these things are. The next step is to draw attention to the behaviour you want to see more of.

The best way to achieve this is by leveraging your customer feedback as an opportunity for role modelling. As a leader, your job is to constantly live out the behaviour you’d like to see in your staff. This could be as simple as dropping everything to help a mother with toddlers carry her groceries out to the car—anything that is a visible reinforcement of the actions your customers love. When new team members see this type of behaviour coming from the top of the business, they know how to act.

Modelling positive behaviour is about empowering your staff. It says to them, “It’s OK to use your initiative to help the customer. That’s what we do here.” When staff are empowered with this freedom, service levels automatically lift. The same can be achieved through coaching of negative customer feedback—if a complaint comes through, it presents a perfect opportunity to sit down with the team member, and coach them through what they might have done differently, while the experience is still fresh in the mind.

Please the customer, and win!

With a strong customer focused culture, established on day one and constantly reinforced by management, the icing on the cake is including an element of competition. As humans, we naturally gravitate towards anything that has a social or recognition element to it. Instead of having stores only compete on sales targets this year, why not compete based on customer satisfaction scores? This really makes a statement about what your company values, and draws staff attention away from the just the short-term, and more towards building strong ongoing relationships based on service.

Christmas is a trying time for many industries. Take out one of the hassles this year by introducing a customer voice to your culture, and see the positive impact it has on new, untrained staff.

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