How, on earth, do you produce employees that care about customer service in a self-centered world? This is a question that a number of managers ask themselves these days in an era where workers are interested in nothing else but the paycheck. I had the opportunity of managing an all-man team while working at a moving company. This industry, I must say, requires a strong character due to its nature; our business was open seven days a week, we were in charge of relocating businesses and families from 8 am until late night even if that meant midnight. In my case, working in a small company meant that I had to wear many different hats: Human resource, accounting, logistics, customer service, administration, sales, and marketing just to name a few. In addition to all of that, I had to handle a group of 15+ grown men, each possessing his own personality. One of the things I am grateful to the Lord for is that my men treated all of our customers with dignity and respect and gave them their best which tremendously boosted the company’s reputation. How did we get to this milestone? I will share few points that my co-manager and I used that benefited our company. Applying these advice neither means that you will get a perfect team nor will it be an overnight achievement; however, it will direct your group towards a successful path.
- Know who you are hiring: If you are not part of the hiring process of your company, decide to be. This will make such a huge difference! You need to know who’s going to be your future colleague. If you have an individual that appears lazy, confusing, slightly rude, indifferent, or inattentive during the interview, he/she will fully unleash this behavior once hired. As much as possible, shy away from employing teenagers or young university students (unless they demonstrate a very strong personality). Now, let me say this about our youngsters: The majority of them, I underline, have no interest in professionalism, all they seek is the paycheck. There are exceptions to every rule, but usually that’s the norm. During the interview, test your candidate in every possible way and pay close attention to his/her demeanor; remember, this may be the person that will handle your customers, hence, you must feel confident about them. Moreover, you want to assess if they can follow your leadership.
- Respond to your employees’ individual needs: The mistake most managers make is to generalize their employees; yet, what works for one may not work for the other. If you want your workers to perform well and care about customer service, you must take an interest in their needs: What do they like/dislike about the tasks you assign to them? What are their strengths/weaknesses? Always make sure you have an idea of what their personal life is like, not their whole biography but an overview of who they are. This will help respond to their needs in an exclusive way. One of my employees, for example, was married and a father of four; he really wanted to have Sundays off in order to attend church and have family time. Consequently, whenever we were scheduling teams, we made sure we never put him down on Sundays. He greatly appreciated the fact that we valued his desire and family moment; as a result, he started every week very refreshed and productive. Another worker came from a troubled background and had low self-esteem; we knew that when it came time to correct his shortcomings, we did so in a constructive way, focusing on his performance without getting personal, and always ending with cheering words. On this note, I will add this: NEVER EVER EVER raise your voice, insult, or humiliate your employees no matter the gravity of their errors or foolishness! This will only escalate matters. Proverbs 15:1 says “a gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” From experience, workers become bitter and vindictive when they feel attacked by managers and just imagine how they will treat customers later on. Team members that are treated with dignity and respect, with their needs met, go on reflecting that same treatment to clients.
- Lead by example: As precious oil poured on the head of Aaron, runs down on his beard, then runs down on the collar of his robe (Psalm 133:2), so does the oil of laziness, incompetence, and unprofessionalism runs down on the head of the manager and down to the employees. If you are a leader who shows no sense of care, discipline, or hard work, don’t be surprised that your workers will follow the same path. If you bad-mouth your customers, your team members will also do the same and be indifferent to them. We have heard this advice again and again, lead by example!
As you pray for your work environment, I trust that the Lord will be on your side when you apply the above points. Know who you are hiring and show consideration to your employees’ needs; you will see the difference in the customer service rendered. If you sow the right seed, you will surely reap the right fruit in due time.