While in Sydney last week, it was recommended I visit Tradies to experience customer service. After coincidentally driving past their big sign on the fence earlier in the day, I was told no, Tradies is not a tool shop, but a Club (the Trade Union Service Cub).
The minute I walked through the door I was warmly greeted by the Customer Service Manager. I told her I was on a mission to check out their customer service. It was evident and exuded from all the staff I spoke to and who welcomed me.
I asked the Manager why there was such a strong customer service culture. She believed it was due to the CEO who lived, breathed and encouraged the Tradies values, and supported the staff to succeed. He spent time with staff, got to know them, encouraged them and upskilled them.
In contrast, I was talking to a supplier a while ago who had just completed some product training at an aged care facility. He said that if he was the manager, he would have sacked the staff. This saddened me, as when I immersed myself with the staff, they felt like they came from a position of love and care for their residents. They said they cared, even though they had hours taken from them with no reengineering of the tasks or processes.
They had new ideas and themes thrust upon them, and no sooner had they got their head around it, then the next great idea was introduced and the previous one was off the agenda. The staff experienced change fatigue and were blamed by management, other staff, residents, families. Some staff had been working in the same role for decades, with very little personal development, product training and digital upskilling.
How do you bring about a cultural mind-shift? I came across a concept called “loose-tight controls”. Develop elements of loose control around entrepreneurship, innovation and prudent risk-taking, while maintaining areas of tight control around your values, strategy, alignment and accountability for positive business results.
Encourage your staff to work in a democratic and informal manner while quality and customer service is measured and managed against stringent requirements.
4 ways to foster loose-tight controls
- Get really clear on your vision and the values expected. You cannot hold people accountable to a direction they don’t understand or a strategy they are not committed to.
- Create very detailed processes around the critical customer interactions that must be delivered flawlessly each and every time in order to create highly engaged, satisfied and loyal customers.
- Create a snapshot of the MOST important numbers and measures that drive your success – and make sure that everybody understands those measures and sees them constantly. What gets measured, tracked, over-communicated and rewarded/punished for… gets done!
- When your staff do a superior job of holding themselves accountable and delivering on their promises it is vital that you give them genuine, honest and sincere praise and reward them for undertaking the appropriate behaviour..
Finally, get closer to your customers. Build strong relationships and understand them at a deep level. This includes internal customers (staff). It will be a game changer!