<i>Dear Workforce</i> What Role Does Employee Training Play in Improving Our Customer Service Standards
December 22, 2005
1. On the premise that great cakes start with great ingredients, the only way you'll be able to deliver world-class service is through world-class employees who are playing their A-game every day. You should devote a large chunk of your training to ensuring that your managers are proficient at recruiting, selecting and leading.
Given that you will get the culture that you measure and reward, it is important to focus on things such as new-hire success rates, morale/engagement levels and bench strength. In the rewards area, if you're not linking at least 25 percent of each manager's variable income to the quality of his or her recruiting efforts, you're not serious about this.
2. Most organizations define their service standards and related training regimen too narrowly for each employee group. For example, bank tellers who are taught only to process deposit and withdrawal transactions will, through no fault of their own, cause the bank to miss out on making loans and selling other types of services. At a minimum, every employee--repeat, every employee--should be trained and required to periodically demonstrate basic knowledge of the organization's products and services.
This is good for human resources folks, too. (While at FedEx, I required our entire human resources staff, myself included, to periodically take and pass the same "features of service" test the company's couriers and service agents are given.)
3. Every organization needs to establish and vigorously manage a big internal scoreboard of its "service quality index," an amalgam of individual service-related metrics. Make sure your employees see this and understand its relation to their efforts.
4. Let your benchmarking efforts wander beyond the immediate playing field of industry peers and the same old tired metrics. Find out what you can learn and how you might compare your habits and results (both leadership and operational) to those of world-class service organizations like Singapore Airlines, Ritz-Carlton, Pebble Beach Resort, Amazon.com, Lexus, Starbucks and the like.