POSTED: April 19 2016
Employees not empowered to do the right thing for customers

Employees not empowered to do the right thing for customers

Employees are being prevented from doing what’s right for customers, despite it being vital for future business success, according to new research from culture change consultancy The Storytellers. The vast majority (88%) of leaders claim improving how they treat customers is ‘fundamental’ to their business’ future success. Three-quarters (76%) admit that if they don’t focus on customers, their company won’t survive beyond the next two years.

But HR professionals do not believe the right action is being taken to address this, with the same proportion (76%) worrying their company is ‘complacent’ about customers. Most (86%) think more needs to be done to put customers at the heart of their organisation.

Alison Esse, Co-founder and Director at The Storytellers, comments: “Invariably, it is employees who must deliver the levels of experience that are expected by today’s customers. They are the key differentiators that will drive competitive advantage.

“Yet many companies are failing to trust and tap into this unique resource, and inspire, engage and empower their people to do the right thing for the customer. These issues must be solved by senior leaders and HR teams as a matter of urgency in order for their businesses to survive.

“Without employees’ involvement, productivity and performance will suffer.”

The Customer Centricity Crisis

Two Years’ Warning is based on the views of more than 150 CEOs, C-suite members, functional heads and Managing Directors in the world’s 500 most successful companies. It also takes into account the views of 400 of their staff.

It goes on to reveal two-fifths (44%) of employees go as far as to say that they feel ‘powerless’ to solve recurring customer issues because managers are unwilling to make changes. Fewer than half (43%) are confident they wouldn’t be reprimanded if they contradicted policy to make a decision in a customer’s interest.

Part of the problem is a lack of trust: a third (33%) of leaders admit they do not trust their people to do the right thing by customers. In addition, many do not fully realise the role their employees have to play in ensuring excellent customer experiences: the top topic of conversation for the majority (54%) of boards is customers but only a tiny proportion (3%) spend the most time discussing employees.

Some businesses simply don’t realise the value those on the frontline can bring: senior managers (86%) are far more likely to be asked to share their insights on customers than their junior colleagues (56%) who are often dealing with customers every day.

Alison Esse adds: “Leaders need to lift their heads out of the sand and realise that this is a critical juncture, at which there are just two options: become more customer-centric or face the prospect of imminent extinction. Every day of paralysis is an opportunity for more nimble competitors to offer customers the experiences they demand. Our research shows employees are passionate about offering a great experience, and more likely to be engaged and motivated if attracting and retaining customers is their number one business priority.”

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