Yep, you read that right. Employees first, customers second. We used to hear it the other way around: “the customer is always first”. The truth is that it is unrealistic to expect happy customers to result from daily interaction with unhappy employees.
Most managed service providers have been providing great customer care as the number one goal. Giving all their energy and resources to this “customer first” strategy can make it easy to neglect the way employees are treated. The way you treat your employees directly correlates with the way they treat your customers.
The master of customer service, Richard Branson, is a big fan of this idea. Companies risk losing customers over bad service by not treating employees well. At Virgin, he makes sure that employees are always first, customers are second, and shareholders are third.
It may sound unrealistic to instantly make all employees at the front-end feel happy. You can start by making them feel appreciated and work from there.
Here are 6 tips to make sure “employees are taken care of first”
1. It all starts with hiring the right people.
Too often MSPs focus on filling a vacancy in the shortest time. During the rush to fill a vacancy, great tech skills get some consideration. The ability to build and maintain good relationships with customers is …. a welcome bonus.
This is backward if you believe your techs are the ones who are interacting and building relationships with customers daily. So, finding someone with great people skills is as crucial as technical skills. Hiring in a hurry, which is slapping a Band-Aid on your problems without offering solution, should be a distant third.
With the right raw material tech skills can be developed over an adequate period. People skills can follow the same model. Look for and test for people who show the right set of skills and attitude when you hire.
Tip#1 Look for someone with “good people skills” - google it, the web is screaming on the amount of information on this topic.
Check this out too: "13 hiring techniques on how to get quality people for your MSP business"
2. Invest in your employees.
There is no better way to invest in your employees than giving them an opportunity to grow and learn. If you are thinking “what is stopping them from doing it on their own?”. Time does. If you have hired well, your people will want to learn and grow. You can choose to pay for employees’ education after work hours or allow sometime during work hours, for example, to prepare for job related certification. Make it a habit to start a day on reading interesting or educational material to help them do a better job. Sharing information is a good practice as well.
Another great way to “invest” is to make sure there is always some food in the fridge. Solving customer problems all day long is not an easy job; it may drain the energy quite quickly. Fruits, bars, and other healthy snacks can help their day to run more smoothly.
Tip #2 Find the best ways for your company to invest in employees.
3. Is your employee engagement as good as you would like?
Your team should always feel that they are an integral part of the business and they play an important role in development and growth. Help them to recognize that the success and growth of the company depends on them. When they are constantly aware of that, they develop a sense of belonging. As a result, they do care about doing a better job.
Tip #3 Make sure your employees know that their work and opinion matters. Otherwise, why did you hire them in the first place?
4. Empower your employees.
This is classic advice but frequently poorly implemented. Empowering employees implies trust. Your employees should know the boundaries of their autonomy. They should be able to describe the autonomous decisions and actions they must make to get the job done. Your words should be the same as their words.
Building hierarchies and having multiple people micro-managing each other is not empowering anyone. Moreover, it does not add to a positive attitude in the company. But it does add pressure. Needless to say, pressure results in poor customer care.
Empowering theory means giving your employees power and authority to make decisions.
If you cannot do, you've hired poorly.
Tip #4 Give people autonomy to make their own decisions and take actions on their own work.
5. Giving feedback & recognizing achievements.
One of your engineers successfully completed Microsoft certification? Blog about it, publish on your company social media pages, celebrate! Make sure everyone knows about his or her achievements in the company.
Has your engineer just solved the most complicated problem or received positive feedback from a customer? Make him or her “employee of the month” and share with others.
Positive feedback adds confidence to your employees to keep moving in the same direction. Sometimes, it is more than enough to throw out as little as “Nice job, John!”, or “Well done, Mary!”.
Anything you do to help your employees boost their self-confidence helps to ensure they have a positive attitude and deliver great customer service.
Tip #5 Every time you feel that they did a great job, big or small, let them know about that.
6. Pay peanuts, get monkeys.
Reviewing your employees' progress on a yearly basis and tip #5 recognizing their achievements should automatically lead to a pay raise. This is something they would expect if they felt they did a great job. Underpaid employees will feel undervalued eventually, and this can affect the way they handle their job responsibilities.
Although, employees with great people skills may not be effected immediately (e.g., the way they interact and provide support to customers), you may risk losing them at some point if you continue to ignore the financial piece.
A good indicator that employees love working at your company is the number of years they spend working there. Employee turnover indicates you are missing on something above.
You want employees who are continually learning and growing. It’s the ones that are worth more in 12 months you should be concerned about.
Tip #6 Do not prolong the pay raise.
Those tips should help to make your employees feel important and appreciated. Mastering at least one of those tips above is a great start. At DD, we have a fridge full of food and most important, we feel free to make decisions on our own.
If you put employees first and customers second, sleep well, you already gave birth to the foundation of the great customer care.