Organization structures need to give employees more control. This can be achieved by reducing rules and regulations. Employees are better able to satisfy customers when they have some control over the service encounter. So management needs to allow employees to adjust their behavior to the changing needs and requests of customers. What customers don’t want to hear are responses such as “I can’t handle this, You need to talk to someone else”; or I’m sorry but that’s against our company policy”. In addition, the use of cross-functional teams can often improve customer service because service delivery frequently requires a smooth, coordinated effort across different functions.
Consistent with low formalization is empowering employees with the discretion to make day-to-day decisions about job-related activities. It is necessary component of a customer responsive culture because it allows service employees to make on-the-spot decisions to satisfy customers completely. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, for instance, has found that high customer satisfaction doesn’t require a problem free experience. The “completely satisfied” customer was one who, when he or she had a problem, found that it was quickly and courteously resolved by an employee. By empowering their employees to make decisions on the spot, Enterprise improved its customer satisfaction ratings.
There is an impressive amount of evidence demonstrating that behavior-based performance evaluations are consistent with improved customer service. Behavior-based evaluations appraise employees on the basis of how they behave or act on criteria such as effort, commitment, teamwork, friendliness, and the ability to solve customer problems rather than on the measurable outcomes they achieve. Behaviors are superior to outcomes for improving service. It gives employees the incentive to engage in behaviors that are conductive to improved service quality and it gives employees more control over the conditions that affect their performance evaluations.
In addition, a customer responsive culture will be fostered by using evaluations that include input from customers. For instance, the performance evaluation of account managers at software company PeopleSoft is based on customer satisfaction and customers’ ability to use the company’s software. Just the fact that employees know that part of their performance appraisal will include evaluations from customers is likely to make those employees more concerned with satisfying customer needs. Of course, this should only be used with employees who have direct contact with customers.
Finally, if management wants employees to give good service, it has to reward good service. It needs to provide ongoing recognition to employees who have demonstrated extraordinary effort to please customers and who have been singled out by customers for “going the extra mile.” And it needs to make pay and promotions contingent on outstanding customer service.