How can you empower your team?

Your business has clear ideas about how it should present itself to the outside world. This leads to rules and guidelines about how employees should communicate with customers and others on the outside. But when those rules become so rigid that they appear to prevent the employee from helping a customer in need then you will find that what is really needed is balance.

Your employees handling customers know exactly what the customer needs and they can usually judge how your corporate brand should be represented. So how come more companies don’t just ditch all the guidelines and let their employees decide how to represent the brand?

Some do – well, at least they almost do.

Forbes magazine recently published an excellent summary of how hotel employees in the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton chains are given a high degree of autonomy to just do what the customer needs – cutting out the brand guidelines and trusting the employee to always make the hotel look good or helpful.

Instead of creating mountains of guidelines, companies like Ritz Carlton define standards, the standards they expect their employees to reach. Then the employees are cut loose and allowed to help customers however is needed – so long as the standards are maintained there is no need for formal guidelines on every single problem that might occur.

This kind of empowerment also creates a happier team. If your boss trusts you to look after customers without a script or long list or rules then your job is more flexible and more flexibility usually equals a happier team.

More empowerment looks like a great deal for employees, customers, and customer service managers – perhaps more firms should be exploring this idea?

Ritz-Carlton

Photo by Bob Brown licensed under Creative Commons

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One Response to How can you empower your team?

  1. Eptica says:

    That’s a great example of empowerment in action Julia. Companies can empower agents in lots of ways – one way is getting them involved in the systems and processes that let them do their jobs. For example, when Domestic & General introduced a new knowledge management platform they got agents involved from the start, helping ensure immediate adoption and usage. More in the Eptica blog at http://eptica.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/knowledge-management-in-practice-domestic-general/

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