How Do You Support The Front Line?Written By Ron Slee
Article Date: 02-01-2005
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Are you giving them what they need to do their best?
As many of you know by now, I hate the word motivation. I believe motivation is internal and everyone has it until someone takes it away. I do believe however, that we can de-motivate someone easily. My first column for this magazine in 2001 was entitled "Who Are Your Heroes?" and it identified the people on the front lines that are serving your customers as the critical element in satisfying your customers and growing your business. This time I want to explore what we are doing to recognize these valuable employees and keep them motivated to do their best. The parts department, service department, and product support sales groups are all extremely important.Each deals with significant challenges when they face a customer with a down machine, a warranty failure, a backordered part, a technical question or any job that is challenging. The customer is in many cases upset. The employee helping the customer needs a good frame of mind, a servant's heart and the knowledge to fix the problem. This is a tough job.
In the service profit chain (of which I have spoken often), everything the customer feels, hears and appreciates comes from satisfied and challenged employees. How do they feel? Overworked? Underappreciated? Sure you pay them for the job, but that isn't enough by itself to make employees work their hearts out each day. How much recognition is there for a job well done? Do you have monthly incentives that recognize service above and beyond the call of duty? Do you have a "Book of Heroes?" Do you provide training?
Never lose sight of the fact that it's the front line employees who service your customers. They are the ones that provide the service value that drives the service profit chain and helps you grow. Are you recognizing this valuable group of people? When was the last time you provided training to the phone and counter personnel on how to deal with objections? How to sell using the telephone? Features and benefits of the products and service you offer? How to use the computer, spreadsheets, databases, documents, etc.? When did you last provide parts managers and supervisors with business training, financial reporting training, or asset management training? How are you stacking up so far?
In the service department, there is an equally lengthy list: interpersonal skills, problem diagnosis, specific technical training on systems, sales training, use of diagnostic equipment. And don't forget the product support salesmen and management. They need training as well. Take time to review your plans for training or to create a plan. Your employees will appreciate it and your customers and your business will benefit.
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