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Key to Great Customer Service: Empowered Staff

In our post last week we suggested empowering
staff to make decisions to assist customers up to a certain dollar amount, say
$500 or so, on the spot, without getting clearance.

The issue of staff empowerment, and how it
greatly improves not only staff morale and performance but customer
satisfaction, is worth discussing on its own.

The key to effective empowerment, according to
industry expert Neil Kokemuller, is to "clearly define
your service standards, such as ensuring that every customer leaves
satisfied." It stands to reason: If you give your employees power, they
have to know the correct way to use it. As Kokemuller says, "with clearly
defined goals, employees have a guideline to follow when making
decisions," and will be confident addressing guest issues.

Obviously you'll need to train your staff to
use their authority correctly. This does take time, true, but it pays off
richly in long-term staff satisfaction with their jobs, and as we all know, happy staff = happy customers.

You'll also need to train your staff in the
basics of issue resolution, which we've covered extensively in past posts.

Another critical aspect of an empowered staff
is that they're not always looking over their shoulders, fearful of making a
costly mistake. To that end, assure them that yes, you know they'll make
mistakes here and there, but you're not there to punish them, you're there to
help them make the correct decisions. Your staff need to know that they can
come to you with "Hey, I'm sorry, I messed up," and get the issue
solved without getting their head bitten off.

Empowered staff resolve guest issues much
faster than unempowered staff, much to the delight of the guest. Your property
is seen as a place that genuinely puts guest needs first.