A top-down approach to customer satisfactionRyan Floriosense of purpose, management, tips, train employees
Growing up in a predominantly middle-class environment put all
of my friends from high school on an even playing field. It never
seemed that anyone had any significant advantages over the rest of
us, since it appeared that we all had the same basic lifestyle; we
were all being fed on a daily basis and could afford to wear
clothes we thought were reasonably cool. Occasionally, we were
allowed to borrow our parents' car for an important date, and this
made us cooler than most - at least for a day.
Looking back, I see now that our parents or caretakers were our
first true managers. Because while simple appearances masked the
differences we were experiencing at home, it was truly the
standards our parents were setting for us behind the scenes that
would shape our characters and communicate our values to the world.
It started becoming apparent after high school that the
self-respect we developed at home would affect our choices and the
quality of the rest of our lives.
I started making the comparison of effective parenting to good
management when I began consulting businesses on their customer
service practices. It's always clear when the owners and managers
have given their employees a strong sense of purpose. These firms
set an expectation of customer satisfaction and performance that is
communicated to every employee from top-level managers to
administrators. And ultimately, this sense of dignity is reflected
in the profitability of the business and shared with all of its
Today, most companies open their doors with a strong focus on
sales as a primary vehicle for their success. Continually
increasing sales are imperative, but this can only truly occur if
customer satisfaction is achieved. In companies where sales are
declining, most will put greater effort into advertising and
prospecting. Unfortunately, these efforts are limited if there is
no system in place to monitor where your company stands in the eyes
of its customers. Such a system enables companies to continually
improve and adjust, while creating greater and greater value for
your customers, your employees and your company's services.
To avoid the risk of declining customer satisfaction, consider
the following systems when establishing your business
1. Top management, through its actions, must show that
customer satisfaction is important
Start by doing an honest review of current services and acknowledge
the areas that aren't working. As painful as it may be to admit,
growth won't occur until top managers are willing to address
shortcomings and limitations. Offices that are thriving have
managers who lead by example.
2. Create a plan to change methods of
Once you've identified the problems, involve employees and
management in the process of planning new procedures that reflect
the new mission and standards of the office. Be sure to make the
procedures specific and have a system in place to measure the
results of the proposed changes. Involving all employees to
actively participate in the planning process will initiate a
greater sense of ownership and responsibility.
3. Recognize employees who contribute to customers'
In doing so, you are validating your commitment to new policies and
procedures. This is an effective and inexpensive way to foster
company morale and reinforce positive behavior. When rewarding
employees, choose experiences that are worthy of recognition, so
that others may learn from their example.
4. Train employees from the point of hire
Invest the necessary resources to teach your employees about
customer satisfaction and how this philosophy is implemented in
your business strategies. Provide them with clear expectations and
outline how performance will be measured and rewarded with
The old adage, "An apple doesn't fall far from its tree," can be
applied to any community we belong to, including our business
environments and workplace. If we are to expect good results from
our employees and coworkers, we really need to begin by providing a
framework of meaningful values and a set of expectations that
inspire our companies towards this end. And by laying this
groundwork, we can be sure to harvest an abundant future.
Ryan Florio is president and CEO of Cleveland-based SpecialClient.com, a
Web-based company that offers automated client relationship
programs as a vehicle for client retention and business
development. He may be reached at (216) 598-0934 or e-mail [email protected]