Empowering Staff

All departments within a dealership rely heavily on each other. The frontline staff works directly with customers but leans on the other departments to get the customers the service and products they need. Having to wait on other departments to provide solutions and answers to customers’ needs could leave the customer waiting and unsatisfied with dealership service. Frontline employees need quick and accurate action instead of obstacles and delays.

Employees with decision-making authorization save management time and increase customer satisfaction. Outdoor power equipment dealerships that provide work environments where staff can perform at their best attract and retain the best employees. Positive employee relationships generate energy and raise productivity, resulting in higher-quality customer service and more satisfied customers.

Following are six steps that will help you to empower staff and thus improve customer service.

1. Empower your frontline staff to solve customer problems on the spot.

By supporting staff and giving them the power to address customer concerns straightaway, their job satisfaction will improve right along with customer satisfaction. When employees hesitate to make the independent decisions related to critical thinking, it’s because they have been discouraged from doing so in the past. They have learned to wait for specific directions from their managers rather than functioning as self-sufficient professionals.

This ingrained habit is difficult to break. The best way to change this habit is to build trust by giving your staff consistent support. Don’t let your chain of command become a ball and chain. When you empower employees, you save money, clients are more satisfied, and productivity increases.

2. Building trust enables you to use your intellectual capital.

When your staff trusts each other, they save time and money, because people who trust others can act quickly and decisively. How do you build trust?

- Respecting yourself and others

- Being a role model

- Being courteous in your communication

- Being sensitive to the needs of staff

Staff members establish trust in you when you make consistent decisions according to what is right, rather than what is easy. When companies use the intellectual capital of their frontline employees, they save money and preserve trusting relationships.

3. Build a positive work environment.

Organizations that provide environments where staff can perform at their best attract and retain the best people. Long-term strategies such as effective communication and staff-friendly cultures enable organizations to achieve the best results. Building a positive culture takes multiple elements: respect, consistency, and integrity. A positive culture is worth the effort because it promotes employee understanding of organizational values, enabling them to make smart decisions for clients.

4. Insist that staff collaborate instead of compete.

For instance, ask yourself the question: “Is everyone aligned behind our sales strategy?” Everyone can accomplish more when departments work together. Good communication and collaboration save time and money, and increase productivity. For instance, a salesperson may sell a product or service, but if he expects to make repeat sales, the customer service person and the delivery person must also interact effectively with clients. No matter how good the salesperson is, future sales will be lost if the customer service person is insensitive to the client’s needs or if the delivery person is rude. This kind of alignment is essential for any company because the faces of all of these people are the faces that reflect the whole company from a client perspective.

5. Brainstorm about the opportunities that lie beyond the challenges.

Dedicate a portion of your staff meetings to list current challenges being faced by the business, staff or customers. Then talk about ways to transform these challenges into opportunities. Perhaps you will be able to redefine your selling proposition to increase sales. For instance, look at both sides of customer complaints. Ask yourself if the complaint reflects their need for a new product or service that your company could offer.

6. Solve the root causes of problems. If frontline employees have no power to solve the root causes of their problems, they end up creating temporary fixes day after day. This wastes huge amounts of time, costing significant amounts of money and reducing quality of service for customers. Solving the root causes of problems may enable you to build your business in new strategic ways.

Core values such as respectful communication and integrity cost nothing. Smart managers empower staff to work together with conceptual communication and leadership approaches that enable them to leverage resources and to do more with less.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: June Fabre is a speaker, trainer, consultant, coach and author, and has worked as an educator and sales manager. For more information, visit junefabre.com.