Creating an efficient, effective workplace begins with hiring integrity based, hard-working people and placing them in positions that maximize their skills and strengths. When you take the time to vet and hire employees with character, honesty, integrity, and work ethic, you don’t have to micromanage. You can give them the freedom to make decisions every day that are well thought-out, analytical, and accurate. In each position within your company, the employee will have the wits, drive and integrity to make solid decisions.
Providing them with the right tools for the position—very specific training, employee operations guides, and mentoring—will ensure they have a structure in place for success. Now you’ve got the foundation. Your business is not based on a house of cards; it is solid. You have cultivated an atmosphere that enables your employees to trust their instincts when handling customer issues.
Confidence is Key
At Jarrett Logistics Systems and PackShip USA, our employees are empowered to make decisions for the customer on the spot, and that’s a better service to our clients. They are able to create solutions, knowing full well the results will be beneficial for our clients and our business. They are not afraid to make these decisions, not worried about repercussions, because they know they are well-trained, and their bosses have provided the mentorship that gives them confidence in their decision-making.
An atmosphere of teamwork and recognition will foster creativity and confidence. It’s my experience that employees who have a good rapport with the CEO will feel a real connection to the business. They will be more comfortable and self-assured, and more invested in the company. They’ll have the entrepreneurial spirit we value so highly, because they’ll feel like it’s their own business.
You—the employer—should be a visible presence, walking among, talking, and listening to your employees as often as possible. It’s the tried-and-true “Management By Walking Around” business model developed by Peter Drucker. At Jarrett and PackShip, we have an open-door policy—my office is centrally located and the doors are left open to encourage interaction.
Building a Relationship
We train our employees to think of the customer’s perspective when fielding a request or addressing a concern. The angle they take to resolve an issue is reflective of their personality. We encourage our people to develop a strategic relationship with our clients, instead of a transactional one.
A transactional relationship is completely business-focused. The employee and customer are cordial but conversation is limited to the matter at hand. If there is a problem, the customer may just use someone else next time, because they don’t feel a connection to their representative.
In a strategic relationship, the employee demonstrates a sincere interest in the customer; they are familiar and friendly, they’ve shared stories and experiences, and have empathy for one another. Conversations are warm and engaging. A dissatisfied customer is more apt to reach out and resolve an issue in this type of relationship.
Employers should highly value the dedication and interest an employee shows in your customers, and it all stems from the interest you show in them. When the employee feels this connection to you, you’ll both have confidence in their ability to make a smart and sensible accommodation to an unusual customer request, or a serious customer dispute.
Michael Jarrett is the founder and president of Jarrett Logistics Systems and PackShip USA in Orrville. Both companies have won numerous growth awards multiple times, including the Weatherhead 100, Cascade Capital Growth Award, INC 500/5000, The Entrepreneurial Edge Award and the NEO Success Award. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.