The culture of your company or firm is actually an extension of what you’ve taught your personnel, or at least it should be. But how do you control your culture, especially when they make a customer mad, don’t care about their jobs on a given day, or do something that’s goes totally against the grain of what you are trying to create as far as an image or branding?
That where leadership comes in. The first thing that’s important is to know that it happened. When an angry or dissatisfied customer calls in, do they get to speak to someone who will satisfy them that their tirade, or disapproval, will be heard and discussed? Perhaps the caller is put on hold and the two people in the office joke and laugh with each other about the call before they get back on the line. Of course, this is unacceptable, but perhaps you haven’t been the leader you should be in getting your employees to understand what is expected of them, so then it falls into your lap.
So how do you ‘feed’ your culture? How do you express how you want them to act and what’s expected when there’s a problem or even a question they can’t answer? The first thing is to be sure you have laid out to your team what your philosophy and goals are and how that translates to treating the customer…on the phone, in the field or wherever they are in touch with them. Make sure the team knows what your brand is and what it means to you and your customers—and what it should mean to them.
When a customer calls, and the person who answers doesn’t know what to do, be sure they have someone they can turn to immediately so the person’s question or issue is quickly resolved. If you are the owner of the company, you can certainly step in when and if you need to. Or perhaps there’s an office manager or another executive who can answer questions. Better yet, let them know what they can tell a customer or prospect in the event of such an incident. How about starting with the words: ‘I’m sorry that you had this happen’; or ‘I’m sorry that you are unhappy, but we are dedicated to helping solve the situation to your satisfaction.’ And if they don’t know the answer how about this: “I’m not the one who has the answer to this but let me find out and get back to you today.’ How easy is all that? And you will be surprised that these simple words will quickly diffuse any situation before it escalates.
For you the owner, you have to take the lead and train all your employees—no matter what they do—on how to react and work with the customer. Let them know that this is critical to your success and that of your company—which also translates to their success as an employee. Let them know that you stand behind them if they follow these rules and procedures and that you will back them and help them in any way that you can.
As a systems integrator or alarm dealer, one of the hardest things truly is dealing with people day in and day out. You never know what they have dealt with in their personal lives—their hardships, problems or ongoing challenges, etc. so act gently and with kindness. Treat others as you would expect to be treated. And open the lines of communications with your employees so they will feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns. Be a real leader.