BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Want better customer service?

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Qantas is planning to give financial bonuses to cabin crew and other staff based on customer satisfaction (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2012). Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told the Herald “Incentivising people for doing a good job is absolutely the way to go. The Apple guys do it and it’s very powerful.”

What’s wrong with Alan Joyce’s  approach?

1. If you have to pay bonuses to get good customer service, you’re employing the wrong people

The people you want working with your customers are people who give great service because, to them, it’s the right thing to do. They don’t have to fake it for a bonus because they genuinely care about people.

Select staff who are naturally helpful, friendly, tactful and enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life. They love serving your customers and it shows.

If you want to stop them feeling good about what they do, you could try:

a) implying they will give better service if they get a bonus and/or

b) surround them with other staff who believe it’s only worth providing excellent customer service if you’re going to get paid more if you do.

2. If you are sure you have hired the right people but you’re still not getting good customer service, look at your systems

There are a number of ways businesses prevent staff from giving excellent customer service:

a) Constant restructuring and job losses causing stress and impacting on individual motivation;

b) Treating customer service as an inferior function instead of critical to business success;

c) Lack of authority at the frontline to make on-the-spot customer service decisions;

d) Policies and procedures that are counter-customer satisfaction; and

e) Inadequate training and development.

3. Believing that if a strategy works for Apple it should work for Qantas (or any other organisation)

There are just so many obvious reasons why this thinking is flawed, there’s really no need for me to list them here.

So how do you provide your customers with an excellent experience, every time?

1. Create a culture that always put the customer first

2. Hire staff with natural talents for customer service

3. Support them with systems and processes that help them give their best

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Want better customer service?

  1. Nicola Deakin

    What a great post! And a great example of measurement and incentives driving behaviour in the wrong direction. Like implying to people with a wonderful, natural customer service ethic that they would try to be more helpful in order to earn a bonus. Really? It is just rude. It also reminds me of a check-in experience I had many moons ago (NOT with Qantas, incidentally) where the person used my name so many times in that short check-in interaction that the conversation became ridiculous. Just as my bags disappeared along the belt I was presented with a card that asked: ‘Did the assistant use your name during check-in?’ I clearly had to tick ‘yes’. Then struggled to find a space in the margin to say ‘and I found it really irritating!’. Definitely NOT a magic customer service moment.

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