You have probably heard one of the customer centric stories surrounding Ritz employees. They are renowned for going above and beyond what is required to create something special for their guests, such as investing time and money to simply return a family item to a customer.
..... ..... .....
To become service leaders, Ritz is empowering its employees and giving them the ability to make on the spot decisions in favour of their customers. Ritz is aware that one generic policy cannot cover everything, and to accommodate for this Ritz empowers its employees with $2000 each to spend on improving their customer service, and ultimately improving their guests’ satisfaction.
This may sound alarming, but most of the time the decision to help a customer in need will be less than $50, a relatively insignificant amount when considering the customer lifetime value and the positive brand equity that will be generated. We know that happy customers create a positive return and since “most customer interactions” exist with employees, it is important to give them all the means to take action when needed.
Regrettably, this is not as simple as it seems. Most of the time employees are fearful to take independent decisions to solve customer problems. This occurs because they believe that they will lose their jobs, and that they could be criticised for the initiative they have taken. Employees are often nervous around whether they will be required to pay for the loss of expenses.
There is however three easy steps that can help your company overcome this problem and boost your employee’s empowerment:
1. Make sure that every department and manager is on board with this policy: Reinforce the culture of empowerment within the teams and the notion of “stand by the employee”.
2. Train employees on empowerment
3. Celebrate employees taking initiative
In the hope that their businesses will generate an enormous revenue from new clients and happy guests, companies can spend thousands on creating an innovative and differentiated business strategy from the “marketing mix”. Despite this investment however, the majority of businesses are not willing to invest a couple of bucks on training employees on how to retain customers and are becoming increasingly reluctant on empowering their staff to make decisions that will impact the customer immediately.
It is important for companies to understand that employees need the ability to bend policies in order to fit each customer specific context. You need to be confident in investing in these little things that dramatically improve the customer experience!