A few weeks ago, you may have read my Weekly Chat on the topic of efficiency. It is a “hot button” for me because I continue to meet leaders who truly believe that work standards increase efficiency. In reality, work standards and numerical quotas may be the biggest culprits that impede overall quality and effectiveness. Too many organizations tend to set absolute standards for their workers. Sadly, they seem to work in the short-run.
Recently, I had a conference call with a regional leader of a notable insurance company. He was very proud of the fact that they had turned their operation around and had met or exceeded their current goals. However, he was concerned about morale and wanted me to do a keynote to pump up his employees and to inspire them to be more successful.
When I asked what would make his employees more successful, he told me that his workers need to get more focused about servicing the customer, not just push calls onto the next department. But, then he said that service was not a great concern because people don’t like dealing with insurance companies anyway. All he seemed to care about was a bit of “rah-rah” motivation for his annual meeting. Since my message is all about creating a unique customer-centric culture and the leadership to continually reinforce that culture, I was not surprised that he didn’t ask me to speak to his group.
In my decades-long career, I have met many leaders who were blind to their own shortcomings and placed unfounded blame on their employees for their alleged lack of effort. I’ve also witnessed countless dysfunctional department heads who made policies and threats to get short-term results. If you stick a gun to a person’s head, you can get them to do just about anything. Short-term results appear to be great, as in the insurance company example. But what happens is that instead of viewing their roles as problem solvers, many “customer service” employees are focused on handling about 25 calls an hour, and some push calls to the next department just to make their numbers look better!
So, throw out your demoralizing quotas and old standards, and begin to study work tasks. Create a customer-centric culture that features coaching and employee development; receptivity to new ideas from everyone; team recognition, and problem solving.
Here are a few questions to begin your journey:
- Where are the hangups to helping customer?
- What takes the most time?
- What are the differences in someone doing the job in x minutes as apposed to 2x minutes?
Identify ways to make it easier for employees to do their jobs and for customers to get solutions to their problems!