The customer service road less traveled

teaching the use good judgement or how to follow policy?

When training our teams on guest experience over the years, I’ve found that new employees often want to know exactly how to respond to Every. Possible. Scenario.

What is the exact script when we answer the phone? How do we handle it when someone misunderstands what we’re trying to sell? What are the exact steps to follow when a guest is unhappy?

The options are often overwhelming.

What's better: teaching someone to use good judgement or follow policy

I spent many years trying to create a protocol for every situation. We had soooooo many manuals, we needed manuals to keep track of our manuals! And then I realized it. We needed to be teaching how to use good judgement, instead. Trying to predict every single thing that could happen in every customer interaction wasn’t only impossible to do, it was impossible for our employees to remember, too.

The additional downside of service by way of policy is creating a culture of blame. Issues get dragged out to a level of ridiculousness (like talking to five managers with no resolution). Customers become a burden, not an opportunity. Not the most joyful situation for anybody!

As I started to look around me, it became apparent that the greatest service companies teach their teams to make good decisions on the spot. They don’t even try scripting every situation. When you choose to lead with a focus on good judgement, the power is put in the employees’ hands. This allows situations to be resolved quickly without having to check with others.

Now that sounds pretty joyful!

Good judgement requires trust. It requires a level of empathy. It also relies on outstanding hiring practices and a consistent and unfailing adherence to the vision and values of your company.

How to create an organization that encourages good judgement over policy:

1. Live your core values & your mission. Your team can’t be expected to make the right choices and use good judgement if they don’t know the framework and philosophy behind what you do. Don’t just train on this information. Live it. Talk about it. Use it as a guidepost for everything you do. Walk the walk, and show your team how to do the same. Encourage them to problem solve using your core values, mission and vision. Get them to do their best for both the client and the company. The result may need a bit of finessing over time, but it will always come from a place of integrity.

2. Simplify! If your product, service, or pricing is over complicated, you set everyone up for confusion. Distill down to the essentials and create simple, straightforward ways for everyone to understand and communicate the key information. Provide this information in a variety of formats for your team and your clients. Not everyone consumes and retains information the same way, so put it in print, on your website, in a video, and discuss it in person.

3. Think of yourself as the customer. Always put yourself in the customer’s shoes and view the situation from their perspective. Encourage your team to ask questions, listen carefully, and treat everyone the way they would want to be treated. Always look for ways to make the experience even better.

4. Go above and beyond. Think about what would truly delight the person you’re working with. As a leader, do this with your team and vendors. Don’t let things always be business as usual. Add something fresh and personal to the situation. Encourage your team to do the same in their interactions. Don’t just resolve problems, create solutions and foster better connection with the people they work with on a daily basis. It’s not hard to find joy when you’re motivated to make a positive difference in someone else’s day.

Empower your team, and watch them soar. You will be happier. And your team will be happier, too.

Question: How do you manage your team? Is it based on policy or good judgement? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.