It’s a cliché, but people are indeed the greatest asset for any organisation. And here’s why. Every business shares the same three ambitions. One, we want our customers to buy from us today, and not just to think about it. Two, we want them to come back again . And three, in an age where social media review sites weave such influence, we also want our customers to refer us positively.
Of course, you won’t be surprised to know that customer experience is the key driver of those three outcomes. Customer experience is influenced by 3Ps. That is great product/services, great place and great people. Picture a three-legged stool to re-enforce this. The weighting given to each leg of the stool will vary in different sectors and at different times. But remember this: it’s been proven over and over again in almost every sector, that people are the most significant driver of customer satisfaction. After all, customers will remember how they were made to feel for a lot longer than the product or the place.
I’m hearing from many of my clients that finding good people is a real challenge. This is particularly true for front-line workers in retail, hospitality and transport. It’s a competitive market for talent and you may be tempted to take whoever you can get.
But consider the risks in doing that. If that person is interacting with your customers on a daily basis, how will they represent you? Will they enhance your brand or damage it?
Rather than just going to the market and making judgments based on a CV and an interview, I believe there is more to it than that.
1 Be clear on your North Star. Before you start interviewing for your team, be sure you have a clearly defined North Star for your business. For example, the way you run a three-star hotel is very different to a five-star. Hotels have an advantage as the star-rating itself tends to support a North Star and therefore a clearly defined set of standards. By reminding yourself of your market positioning, you will be more focused on getting the right person.
2 Consider your culture. Remember that culture eats strategy for breakfast! Culture is like the software of the mind, in other words it’s about how your people behave with customers and with each other. If you want your people to be totally focused on customers so that you build a reputation for excellence in customer experience, then that should be reflected in your culture.
Furthermore, if you want your teams to be fully accountable and to show respect to all people, this too should be articulated in your culture.
So when you meet job candidates, look for how they will fit with your culture. A candidate might be the best you can find from an experience or competence perspective, but they must also fit with your culture. If they don’t, they will disrupt the rhythm of the business.
3 Refresh your organisation chart. This should show the key roles and their reporting lines. For the role you are wanting to fill, write a job description. That should outline what the roles and responsibilities are. Then list the criteria for each, such as what knowledge, skills, experience and qualifications are needed. By so doing, you’ll be more selective.
4 Decide the non-negotiables. For each criteria in the job description, decide which ones are essential and which are desirable. For example, Disney is very particular about its dress code. It makes it very clear at the recruitment stage that body piercing and tattoos on employees cannot be visible. Even if they get a star candidate that ticks all other boxes, a person will be rejected if unwilling to accept those terms.
5 Check for attitude. When you start to meet prospective employees, the CV is of course an essential discussion document. But be sure to check for fit with your desired culture, by going beyond the CV. Ask questions about the candidate’s past experience with for example, working with other people, handling difficult situations, dealing with conflict, working under pressure. Plan in advance the questions that will extract this type of information.
6 Prioritise training. If the candidate doesn’t have all the knowledge and skills to do the job straight away, how quickly can you train them? After all, you can train on knowledge and skills, not so with attitude. Once you have hired your team, be sure to bring them through an intensive induction programme. This is where you will impress on them your ambition, your ethos, your culture and your expectations.
The Last Word
I recently completed a customer survey and employee engagement audit for a client.
The results were shocking. Customers slated this company for its poor service, especially in their interactions with employees.
Employee engagement scores were also very poor.
The correlation is very telling and you don’t need an MBA to work it out.
High levels of employee engagement improve the likelihood of high customer satisfaction. And that starts with creating and building the right team in the first place. Hire for attitude, train for skill.
Alan O’Neill, author of ‘Culture
Matters’ is a change consultant and keynote speaker, specialising in
strategy, culture and customer
experience. Go to www.kara.ie to get support in growing your business.