Bob Pritchard on the importance of training tour team and customer experience

I was presenting to a Fortune 500 company the other day and the marketing manager said to me “why should I spend a heap of money to educate, develop and train customer service staff?’.  As soon as I do they will leave. Why should I invest in them?
In all my years as a business coach, trainer and speaker I have heard this over and over again.  It must rate up there as one of the most idiotic statements I have ever heard.   The major driver of business growth, return on investment and word of mouth which in turn increases customer loyalty, reduces marketing costs and enables higher profit margins is exceptional customer service.  It is also critical to remember that everyone who has any contact with the customer in any way is on the front line.
To run a successful business you also need to have happy, dedicated employees who feel valued, they will work hard and be more productive.  In the service industry, everyone is dependent on the performance of their employees. A customer can tell in 3-4 seconds if an employee is dedicated, loves his role and genuinely cares about the customer. Frontline employees have 99% of the customer contact. Consistently they are the least trained, least valued, least appreciated and least paid. They are the face of your organization and not providing extensive training and ensuring they have a customer centric attitude and are empowered to address customer issues immediately could spell the kiss of death for your organization.
Many organizations have underperforming employees and they are reluctant to train or fire them. There appears to be several reasons organizations are reluctant to invest in their employees. It’s these misconceptions that keep companies, large and small from developing to their full potential, among them;
  • They already ask if the customer “wants fries with that” so they are good enough.
  • I can’t trust them to make good decisions for the company
  • By the time I spend money to get them trained, they will leave.
  • Our customers love our great products, they don’t come for fancy service.
  • My front line employees get paid a pittance, Why would I waste money training them and have to pay them more?.
You also cannot just give them an 8 hour training session once, it must be consistent. It has been proven that when McDonald’s or Coca-Cola stop advertising for a month, their sales decrease markedly.  Training staff is the same.
Training is one of the highest-leverage activities available. If your training efforts result in a 1 percent improvement in your employees¹ performance, just think what that will do to company loyalty, brand issues, and your bottom line over a 12 month, 2000 hour working year.
If the customer receives an incredible customer experience, they will come back and tell their friends. It is easier to grow your business with word-of-mouth advertising through well-trained employees. If you want customer driven and high performing employees you need to invest in your total workforce with something new and fresh every 4-6 months.
It is not the employers that pay the wages, they just handle the money.  It is the customers that pay the wages
Bob Pritchard