The challenge of competence is one that every company must address. Knowledgeable and discerning customer service is more important today than ever. Consumers can get rudimentary questions answered online. Shoppers are so proficient in gathering information on their own that many don’t need much guidance until they’re just about ready to make critical buying decisions.
There are no simple answers anymore. The Internet can only go so far; a human is needed to size up the customer’s needs and match those needs with appropriate services or product offerings. Sales representatives of all kinds must be patient and understanding listeners, first and foremost, but also must be solution-oriented problem-solvers who know their stuff.
When customers get their complex questions answered and intricate problems resolved, they remember. Some will take time to post positive comments on social media sites and become your most loyal brand advocates. When I contemplate the meaning of loyalty, I think about people — not places, not stores, not even brands. I think of people who know their merchandise and also know me well enough to suggest what’s best for me.
When the phone rings, an email is sent, or a customer walks into a place of business, that consumer is on a mission. Whatever the reason, it will be one that impacts whether the relationship with the particular brand is renewed or diminished. Across the board there is turnover: call centers, retail, banking, and hospitality all report high rates of attrition. Every industry depends on frontline associates to help build loyalty with their customers.
I believe the greatest cost of employee turnover is one that is rarely quantified or even discussed. Diminished staff capacity reduces the ability to build customer relationships and expand upon the knowledge base. Customers might very well have a good purchasing experience if their sales associate was welcoming and engaging. But, those same customers may not return if they feel what they really need is someone with an in-depth grasp of the store’s merchandise.
While the true cost of turnover may be difficult or even impossible to calculate, companies must be aware of the relationship between employees and generating revenue. There should be an appreciation that the bottom line is affected when there is high turnover and your business has a reputation for employing inexperienced staff.
It takes time and practice for associates to learn about your company’s specific policies, procedures and technical nuances. If your staff is not product savvy it will make it more difficult to deliver a perfect customer experience. In order to truly estimate the impact of high turnover in your employee ranks, the cost of losing customers because of employee churn must be included in your ROI formula.
What have we learned from Henry Ford and other successful entrepreneurs in the last one hundred years? Keeping valuable employees on your company’s payroll makes good business sense. It’s really one of your best investments. Treat your employees as you would your finest customers and make their value known. Compensate them fairly. Show them the utmost respect. When your customer-friendly, knowledgeable and reliable associates leave your organization and go to your competitor, it’s a double-whammy.