Customer Service - Empowerment Makes Dollars and Sense

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Empowerment exists when employees have the authority to make decisions and take appropriate actions without first seeking approval from others.

Empowerment allows front line service staff to act quickly for their customers, improving customer satisfaction and boosting staff morale.

I use an internet grocery delivery in London called Ocado.

I’m impressed with this company for the design of their website, the friendliness of the delivery staff, commitment to a one-hour delivery window and much more!

Everything is designed for what the customer wants, not what is easy for the company.

They get a lot of repeat business from me and my friends.

Recently, Ocado substituted an item, a standard practice when something I order is not available.

I did not notice the substitution at the time of delivery (although Ocado usually makes it clear when they have done this).

When the next delivery arrived, I asked to return the item (worth 5 pounds) for a refund.

The delivery person immediately took 5 pounds off my bill and then said, You know what, you can keep the item anyway.

The driver didn’t have to call anyone else to ask if he could do this, he just did it.

Terrific! The company empowers him and trusts him to look after their customer’s right at the doorstep. Ocado will earn those 5 pounds from me many times over.

Empowering the delivery person gives the customer what he or she wants and is best for the company, too. Imagine the administrative costs of processing a refund claim, bringing a product back to the warehouse, restocking the shelf, adjusting the inventory, etc. All that effort for an item of such low value! Yet that’s exactly what most grocery stores around the world would do. Grocery is a low-margin business. 

The best, fastest and most intelligent thing to do is what the driver did: turn a low-value item into a high-value customer moment.

Key Learning Point 

Empowerment works for your customers, your staff and your organisation. Customers get what they need done quickly and done right.

The staff becomes more positive and professional.

Your organisation earns a reputation (and loyal customers) no amount of advertising can buy.

Action Steps 

Ask your front line staff what they cannot do for customers without first getting a managers approval.

Now ask yourself what you might gain if staff could act immediately.

If there are credit risks or financial limits involved, set them high enough to be worth the time and effort your administrative procedures will require.

Otherwise, let your service team do what’s right right away.

This article was contributed by Ron Kaufman

Ron Kaufman is an internationally acclaimed educator and motivator for partnerships and quality customer service. He is author of the bestselling "UP Your Service!" and founder of "UP Your Service College".


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