Whether in our professional or personal lives, we have all gotten frustrated dealing with an employee who just doesn't seem to care. We've all experienced that blood-boiling feeling when interacting with that seemingly less-than-competent person who either cannot nor will not do what is expected of them. We get angry at them, but is it their fault?
I recently had a mind-boggling experience with my insurance company. Having sent the claim form to them, I called four weeks later to find out when I would receive my reimbursement. I learned, after many calls, that my paperwork was initially lost and they would begin an investigation.
Not hearing from them after some time, I called again to learn that they found the file (miraculously) but that it was missing my signature. I was instructed to fax my signature (who still sends faxes by the way?) and assumed everything was under control, yet it took another four phone calls and six weeks to receive my payment. Each employee I spoke with did not care about my situation and simply said this is how we do it. All calls began stating they are monitored for training purposes -- really?
While I was angry with the person I was speaking with on each call, the really guilty people here are the leaders. If they are actually monitoring these calls, they would clearly see that they have seriously broken processes that need to be fixed. And if they are not monitoring these calls, what are they doing?
This example plays out every day in every business. Not only are we as customers unhappy, but so are these same employees who feel so frustrated that they are not able to properly do their jobs and assist customers. Some of them "hate their job" -- and they are the same folks who are talking to your customers.
My belief is that this situation has gotten worse over the past few years, and I feel it is imperative that leaders acknowledge these problems and attack them with determination and vigilance.
Here are five things you can as a leader do to turn this around.
1. Look at your business with fresh eyes
Imagine you just bought this company and you are seeing everything for the first time. You want to really understand what is working, where there are problems, and what you can do to make it better.
2. Get out of your office
Visit employees throughout the organization and talk to them to find out what they think. In the insurance example above, the employees will tell what needs to be fixed -- but no one is asking them. I often say that nothing good happens by staying in your office.
3. Keep asking 'why?'
Why do we do it this way? Why does it take so long? Why does our customer have to keep calling us for months to receive a check he should have received in two weeks? You will be amazed at what you learn, and what you can fix.
4. Equip your employees
Make sure your employees have all of the information and tools to properly do their jobs. I'm always amazed to find that leaders expect their employees to be successful without the right equipment. It's like asking a carpenter to frame a house with barrels of nails and no hammer.
5. Listen to your customers
Begin tracking customer satisfaction, not with extensive studies but with simple questions. I just returned on a flight and received an email from the airline asking, "would you fly again with us"? What more do you need to know?
Having done this many times, it is still remarkable to me how a leader can quickly change this outcome resulting in customers who actually like doing business with you -- and who "would definitely fly again".