Guest post written by Dare Dairo. To gain exposure by writing for us, read our guidelines here.
As an entrepreneur, you probably started business on a shoestring budget. That means you may have operated alone or at best with a couple of close friends and family members who probably shared your passion and commitment in one way or for one reason or the other. But as business expands and customers multiply, it becomes pertinent that you employ more hands. These are people who have no inkling of the core and essence of your driving passion or vision for the business. They most likely joined you basically for the salary or wage you pay.
But unless and until you can bring them up with about the same passion and commitment with which you have attracted and sustained your customers thus far, you just might be in danger of losing them. I often hear many entrepreneurs complain about the dearth of good people with the right attitude and commitment to good customer service. Even after much training, attractive Salary and other emoluments, some entrepreneurs still have problem in getting and retaining the best from their staff for the satisfaction of their customers.
In this article, I will share five insights with you on how to empower your staff to serve your customers right. Please pay attention to the operative word here – EMPOWER. Passion is a form of energy. It is Power. Beyond the training and good pay, your staff must be infused with enough of that energy to unlock their individual creative energies for the day-to-day discharge of their duties and responsibilities towards the utmost satisfaction of your customers. As a team, it is also most important that a seamless flow exists between all the various departments and tasks that goes into the final output that your customer is paying for.
Having ensured that your employees have prerequisite qualifications and experience for the job,
1. Persuade, rather than Command
The most important part of recruiting your staff into your dream is to communicate that vision to them in the most effective way possible – enroll their hearts into the job. But recognize that people learn differently. Where a good salary may work for an employee, it may take a more family friendly work environment to secure the commitment from another. Once you can gain their hearts, evolve such synergy in the workforce that encourages initiatives so that you do not always have to give orders. The goals and procedures are defined and they know what to do. But even where need arise to give orders, use soft but firm words to convey your message. Treat your staff with dignity and they will treat your customers no less.
2. Let Power Flow
In my interactions with entrepreneurs, I can’t help but notice a sense of distrust and insecurity between many of them and their workforce. Consequently, they tried to wield so much power that only further alienates them from their staff – they must make all the decisions. You need to ‘diffuse’ power by divulging some to your staff. For example, you can make it as part of the perks of being staff of the month that the person gets to decide who can be granted leave when and for how long. Just make sure they understand the responsibilities of such discretions. This encourages greater commitment and keeps power flowing. When power stagnates in you or an appointed head in the group, progress stagnates in that person’s strengths and weaknesses. But when power flows, there is greater cohesion and selfless efforts in serving your customers – they are all equal, only the customer holds the power, and him they must serve.
3. Rotate Roles and Responsibilities
Some roles in the organization may be rather unpopular for its difficulties (having to close late, monotonous work, etc) while some may be much pleasant and rewarding. Within reasonable limits, rotate roles and responsibilities such that all staff get a fair share of both the pleasant and to too pleasant tasks. That helps to reduce the drudgery of the job, keep the workforce focused on the only external goal – the customer.
4. Let the Customer Decide
Since the whole idea of your business is to satisfy the customer, it is important that you get a feedback from him on your performance in that regard. Since all your staff get to have a shot at the different roles and responsibilities in the business, allow the customer to grade the effectiveness of each member of staff in the different roles. This serves as a constant reminder of who really is the most important person in the business.
5. Reward Generously
When you empower your staff to put in their best into their work in the manners here highlighted, you reduce loafing; encourage a healthy competitive spirit and greater commitment to work efficiency and customer satisfaction. You gain more. For the much that they have given you, reward your staff generously. And do it as quickly as possible. It makes them want to do more and the bar of satisfaction that your customer gets keeps getting higher. Ultimately, it’s your gain.
Creative Commons Image courtesy of Joseph Robertson
Dare Dairo is a freelance writer, media strategist and social worker. With a passion for nourishing young budding entrepreneurs with appropriate perceptual attitude for wealth creation and value engineering to move our beloved nation forward. He is the presenter of Realms of Freedom, a motivational talk show of over five years running on Eko 89.75 FM designed to galvanize more young people to embrace the entrepreneurial solution to nation building and self actualization.