How to motivate employees to be Customer Centric

Written by Harald Baumeister for Buljan & Partners Consulting

Many managers claim that their employees have the right environment to deliver excellent services to their customers. However, the customers see that a bit different. In an Experience Gap Analysis Study carried out by our partner Strativity between 2004 and 2011 with more than 50.000 participants, 76% of the employees said they often go “above and beyond” and exceed customer expectations, yet only 26% of the customers agreed.

The problem is that current methods to motivate employees are mainly based on productivity and sales improvement, but neither on the customer satisfaction nor on their needs.

In our projects we hear often, that the salary should be enough to motivate the employees in the organization. However, the salary buys you only the attendance of your staff, not the motivation to exceed in their work. The motivation to deliver exceptional services must be intrinsic. The employees must want to deliver great customer experiences when they do their job. This cannot be bought with a salary and cannot be controlled by the management. It can only be achieved by creating the right environment within the organization. Managers have to support their employees to grow and to perfect their skills, and as a result the values of the organization i.e. to be customer focused must be aligned with the values of the individuals in the company.

Incentives and Recognition
In most companies each employee gets a set of objectives every year that he is measured on. These objectives are based on the company’s objectives which are broken down into individual targets for each employee. Unfortunately these targets can sometimes by the individual only partially be influenced, moreover the objectives are many times conflicting with customer centric values. For instance to improve the performance of the CIC you still find the length of a call as a measure to evaluate the agent.

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Only if the incentives reflect the customer satisfaction and expectations you will see an improvement in your organization towards customer centricity. A sales person that is measured only by sales will very often overpromise to the customer, a sales person that receives a part of his bonus when the customer is satisfied after the purchase and delivery will make sure that the customer gets what he desires.

Today most trainings consist of procedures how to do things right. Employees are trained on standard processes, that have to be followed. Even very motivated employees will eventually get tired after several classes of process educations. These trainings reduce employees to followers of fixed actions.

The truth is that today’s world consists more and more of exceptions. Fixed standard transactions can be done much better by computers. However the exceptions in our business life require empowered and motivated people to find adaptable solutions satisfying our customer.

This has to be reflected in the trainings of the staff. Trainings have to focus on principles rather than on procedures. The principles should reflect the company’s values and objectives to be customer centric. Principles include taking over responsibility, empowering and encouraging employees to take action, that can be also outside the standard box.

The measures must be accompanied with the empowerment of each employee. Each individual must have the tools and authority to serve the customer’s needs, and to solve the customer‘s problems.  The employees must be trusted by their managers to do things right. Only then the individual has the right environment to satisfy the customer needs and exceed customer expectations.


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