Roy's Blog

January 22, 2010

How to empower employees to serve customers

Let me be clear: when I speak of empowerment I am referring to it as it applies to customers, and how to use it to serve a strategic purpose.

Many organizations fear the ‘e’ word.

The common myth is that if you allow people to do what they believe is necessary they will ‘give away the farm’; they will break the rules; they will disrupt the rhythm of the organization and create needless stress and strain.

Nonsense. These beliefs come from a misunderstanding of what empowerment really is.

Empowerment is the provision of specific degrees of freedom to employees consistent with the strategy of the organization.

What it is; what it is not:

- it is bending the rules of the organization in specific circumstances for specific customers; it is not allowing rule bending for all circumstances and for any customer. Rule bending is a critical component of the Service Strategy of an organization and results in dazzled customers with deep loyalty to the firm. It must be allowed but only under controlled circumstances;

- it is a planned course of action with its own set of rules in terms of the process an employee is to follow and the options available to them; it is not doing whatever an employee thinks is right at the time;

- it is being a few things to seleced customers; it is not being anything to all customers;

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- the actions allowed are defined directly from the strategy of the organization; they are not invented on the run;

- the effectiveness of empowerment is measured against the desired outcomes; it is not ‘winging it’ and let the chips fall where they may;

- it is a proactive set of activities; it is not an unplanned reactive event;

- empowerment is contained within a ‘box’ with rigidly defined parameters and behaviors expected of an employee; it is not unfettered activity with no boundaries.

Critically examine your strategic game plan and define the critical operations areas where empowering employees would be helpful to achieving the results expected.

Create an empowerment plan: which customers are to be included; what operations activities are ‘empowerable’ (like service recovery, service sign-up etc.); what measurable outcomes are expected and what behaviors must an employee exhibit - i.e. what is the empowerment process to be followed.

Honor your empowerment champions.

Tell stories of what they did to paint a picture of what success looks like.

Cheers,
Roy

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  • Posted 1.22.10 at 03:48 pm by Roy Osing
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