Why is it that when customers blame us for something going wrong, we are quick to blame others, especially in larger organizations?
"We passed the order to Department X weeks ago; I do not know what they have done with it." (You know very well it is still in your in-tray!) Customers see through these feeble excuses and are not impressed.
Why do we do things like this? Here are a few justifications:
• Department X is always making mistakes; attributing one more to them won't make any difference.
• There is a particular person in Department X you do not like.
• No one will find out whether Department X is to blame or not.
• They have blamed your department often enough.
• They always beat your staff at the annual bowling challenge.
Lack of communication between departments is often cited as the reason for poor working relationships.
"They never tell us anything" is a frequent cry.
Communication is a two-way process. The most efficient of systems will not be effective if people don't read their messages, look at the notice boards, log on to their computers, check their voice mail or pay attention at meetings.
Getting people to sign memos provides only proof of receipt, not evidence that they've actually read the information. They need to want to know what's going on.
Low morale and a critical and suspicious environment will prompt employees to see customers as a nuisance and not the lifeblood of the business. Every employee needs to appreciate that they contribute to customer satisfaction, even if they are working behind the scenes, e.g., maintenance, cleaning, refuse collection, etc. They deserve to be kept informed!
Insecurity Creates Conflict:
Another cause of internal conflict is insecurity: downsizing, management restructuring, fast-talking business consultants, threat of job loss, short-term contracts - all might trigger a loss of pride in the job and a could-not-care-less attitude. Customers become anxious and take their business elsewhere.
Insecurity manifests itself in a number of behaviors:
• Gossip and back-stabbing
• Shifting blame
• Increase in absenteeism due to stress
• Constant moaning and whining
• Negative thinking
In this environment, it is likely that customer complaints will increase. It is essential to keep the customer at the center of everything you do, no matter what is going on behind the scenes. Without customers, you do not have a job.
Managers need to be very observant when employees are showing signs of dissatisfaction. Early identification of problems is the key to a successful solution.
Look out for:
• Deadlines not met
• Increase in illness
• Poor-quality work
• Bad atmospheres
How To Address Employee Dissatisfaction
• Ask questions in a confidential manner
• Reassure; calm fears
• Praise, encourage
• Don't blame or challenge
• Involve people
• Motivate, reward
Multi-Skilling & Interdepartmental Working:
Conflict also arises through ignorance. Giving people the opportunity to learn about the work of others and equipping them with new skills helps dispel fears, boost confidence and motivate. It also takes people out of their enclosed worlds of Accounts or the Mail Room and gives them the bigger picture.
Many complaints arise because staff feel they are expected to do a job without any training. Allowing them to attend courses out of the workplace is very beneficial. It gives them the opportunity to network with others, revitalize their ideas, and acquire new skills. Hopefully they will come back and think, "This is not such a bad place after all."
In any business, we are all customers of each other. Unless we get the internal customer service right, it will not extend naturally to external customers. Remember, we are all working for a common aim: customer satisfaction.
Today's News: A very exciting initiative is now very close to launching - Business Experts Webinars, will provide a series of top class webinars from some of the world's leading business experts and my good friend Lee Salz, should be very proud for bringing this all together. I have developed five sessions and my first broadcast is on May 6th - I will provide further details, just as soon as the site goes live.
Tomorrow: Another good friend and best selling author, Jeb Blount is on The JF Guest Author Spot tomorrow, with the excellent "The Sound Of Silence"
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