Memo to Employers: Empower Your Employees

Sep 11, 2012 1:42 AM  By

Employers must empower their employees to reap excellent customer satisfaction, according to an employee engagement study conducted by Maritz Research.

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The Maritz Poll, which surveyed nearly 2,900 employees across several industries, revealed that employees often feel their hands are tied by corporate policies that focus on bottom-line results rather than the needs of the customer. What’s more, few employees believe they are recognized for providing great customer service. Here’s more about the benefits of empowering your employees.

According to the survey, a mere 8% of employees said their company’s policies and procedures make it easy to satisfy customers and just 13% indicated they have the authority to respond promptly to customer problems and requests. Learn some examples of what empowering employees can do for your company and what factors guide this business strategy.

Rick Garlick, senior director of consulting for the Hospitality Research Group at Maritz Research, said in a release that companies are struggling to recapture a flailing customer base, but seem at a loss to come up with a solution. Find out about the principles of employee empowerment.

“Our survey respondents make the solution quite clear: empower employees to help customers and both will view the company in a more positive light,” Garlick said.

Only 20% of employees said they feel providing excellent customer service is their company’s top priority, down from 29% in 2011; and just 14% believe their work group has a clear understanding of customers’ needs, down from 20% last year.

Yet, more than half (52 percent) of those surveyed who have direct interaction with customers, say they enjoy customer interactions very much. This video explains more about employee empowerment.

“This leaves employees in a difficult situation,” Garlick said. “They want to help the customer, but feel they don’t have the authority, or existing policies prevent them from doing so effectively or sometimes at all.”

Here are some additional statistics from the Maritz Research employee engagement study that indicate a need for companies to evaluate their customer service culture:

Only 11% of employees say policies, systems and procedures at their company support the delivery of outstanding customer service.

Only 9% say their company frequently seeks suggestions for improving customer satisfaction from employees who have regular contact with customers.

And 10% say their company sets specific goals for achieving and improving customer service and satisfaction; 8% say their company has effective formal programs and processes for improving customer satisfaction.

Ten percent say their company provides effective training to support excellent customer service; 17% indicated they completely understand the values that their company wants to represent to its customers.

Here’s more information about the survey.

Jim Tierney (jim.tierney@penton.com) is a senior writer for Multichannel Merchant. You can connect with him on Twitter (TierneyMCM) and LinkedIn, or call him at 203-358-4265.