A solid customer relationship management (CRM) system will inevitably lead your employees to engage more deeply and more consistently with your customers.
(article continues below)
Customer contact is a good thing, but what happens next?
In a well-structured CRM environment, employees who interact with customers have the authorization and ability to provide total customer satisfaction. If the idea is to strengthen customer relationships (and it is), then sending staff into customer engagements without the proper decision-making authority is counterproductive, at best.
The decision to empower your employees really has nothing to do with your employees at all. It has to do with your ability to trust your workers and the belief in their competency to make the right decisions, knowing that micromanagement is not an option.
Employee empowerment begins with a series of broad policies that define the boundaries of your workers' decision-making authority. Your guidelines should reflect your comfort level as well as the needs of your customers, and should address the following issues customer relations issues:
- Frontline data correction. Employees who were in direct contact with your customers should have the ability to make changes to their contact information. If the customer has to take additional steps or contact another department for corrections, he will quickly become frustrated and disillusioned with your customer management process.
- Refunds. Employees who work with customers frequently field requests for refunds and returns. It's important to give your employees the authority to make refunds. But while you're at it, educate them about the circumstances in which a refund is not appropriate.
- Discounts. Disgruntled customers can be transitioned into satisfied customers with something as simple as a discount or coupon. Employees shouldn't have to get permission to offer discounts, provided it doesn't become routine or exceed a reasonable dollar value.
- Penalty waivers. Many business owners get an ego boost from personally waiving or reducing penalty charges. Although there is something satisfying about swooping in at the last minute to cancel a penalty, your employees will appreciate the ability to do it themselves after you have articulated a penalty waiver policy.