Empowering employees to deliver customer service

Bill Hogg tells how Home Depot impressed him because an employee was empowered. An employee offered to discount an item to match a sale price. When asked why he did this, the employee responded, “I am empowered to make our customers happy”.

This may seem like a simple thing, and in many ways it is. But are your employees empowered to make customers happy? Certainly, we don’t want employees arbitrarily discounting prices or caving to every demand made by a customer, but there are many other ways to make a customer happy. And we must empower our employees to do so.

While systems and procedures can provide structure and guidelines, they are not enough. Systems and procedures cannot address every possible situation that might arise, particularly when dealing with customers. In an unusual situation, it can become easy for an employee to “go by the book” and fail to make the customer happy. We must do more than tell our employees what we want them to do. We must also explain why—the result that we desire.

When an employee understands the desired result he is better equipped to deal with these situations. He is empowered to exercise his own judgment when the situation calls for it.

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