For many small businesses, an employee is the only point of contact a customer will ever have with a business.
In industries such as moving and transportation, utilities and restaurants, business owners rely heavily on employees making good and lasting impressions on customers. Employees are tasked with broadcasting the business’s branded message and ensuring customers have accurate and actionable information about their products or services.
When these ambassadors do not have proper communication skills to perform these tasks, customers start filing complaints with the BBB.
The BBB of Greater Kansas City handled thousands of complaints in the past 12 months from customers who claimed a business repre-
sentative told them something that the business could not or would not follow through on.
In the 1,385 complaints that mentioned an employee, the vast majority complained about miscommunication. Eighty-eight complaints in the same timeframe mentioned that an employee had been fired. Most of those complaints claimed the employee made promises they had no business making and had since been terminated.
Reducing customer complaints
Employee training can remedy many of these problems, but the BBB explored ways that could further reduce the number of customer complaints caused by miscommunication between employees and customers. BBB tapped ThriveOn Concepts for its expertise. ThriveOn is a BBB-accredited leadership coaching organization that advises businesses on best practices for professional development.
ThriveOn strongly recommends businesses adopt modern strategies that augment the traditional hiring process:
- Listing a job opening
- Reviewing applications
- Interviewing candidates
- Selecting a candidate
If employers do nothing more, they may be faced with problems: With the traditional hiring model, employers are more likely to cave in to their own subjectivity. Perhaps the candidate shares an alma mater with the employer, creating an instant connection that does not have anything to do with the job parameters. Perhaps the employer has had good luck with graduates from a particular college, or a trusted friend recommended someone for the job.
Unfortunately, these influences do not guarantee the candidate possesses the skills required to perform well in the position. It can bias the employer into hiring an unqualified candidate, and the business continues to generate customer service complaints.
To eliminate these biases, ThiveOn recommends businesses implement a modern hiring strategy known as job benchmarking.
Job benchmarking is the process of letting a position’s job parameters tell employers what is required for superior performance. This process allows employers to avoid relying on a candidate’s listed experience and education. An employer can see a candidate’s actual proficiencies and be proactive in protecting relationships with customers by hiring employees with an aptitude for positive customer interaction.
The process has three prominent steps
- Key Accountabilities
Before employers make a hiring decision, they should ask themselves a series of questions:
- Why does the job exist?
- What does success in the job look like?
- How does the job fit the company’s strategy?
Limit to only three key accountabilities to be as clear and concise as possible.
After determining key accountabilities, an employer should assess the top 2-3 candidates’ proficiency in those areas. For instance, a customer service representative should be able to adapt to an emotional response from a customer. Assessments exist for just about any skill, including emotional intelligence. Implement these assessments to get concrete data on a candidate’s ability to deal with the situation rather than rely on the candidate’s word that they can handle it.
- Gap Analysis
Assessments give numerical values for any skills the employer decides to test on. Employers can use the assessments to measure aptitude in definitive terms. It allows them to conveniently compare proficiencies with other
The process reveals gaps in a candidate’s knowledge or skill set that an employer can address during subsequent interviews. ThriveOn advises against directly revealing these gaps in proficiency to the candidate. That way, an employer can devise an individual development plan for the employee’s growth in the position.
Hiring the right person for the right job limits the likelihood of confusion between a manager and the employee and between the employee and customer. For employers using job benchmarking, employees are more likely to improve the customer experience.