Employees are key in customer service

Quality customer service has been shown time and again to help businesses obtain and retain customers.  The key in providing customer service is with front line employees, that is, anyone charged with dealing with the public.

Airlines have many front-line employees: gate agents, flight attendants, reservations personnel and so forth. It stands to reason that these employees make a huge difference in how passengers perceive their flying experience.

Kevin Gray writes for BNet about how American Airlines dealt with incentivizing employees to provide better customer service. American Airlines had tried a bonus program for employees that helped make flights leave on time, but they failed to factor in weather. The program backfired as employees were frustrated. In 2007, American formed a Customer Experience Team .  Gray writes:

On the customer-service front, adding clear-cut metrics helped make the monthly bonuses less subjective. The staff was given certain requirements: greeting first-class passengers by name, for example. Bonuses varied depending on the marks the team received in customer-satisfaction surveys.

He adds:

In the compensation world, American’s pay-for-performance method is known as line-of-sight incentive; it gives workers concrete goals they can see and achieve. A big benefit of line-of-sight, argues Jim Kochanski, a national compensation expert with Sibson Consulting, is that it fosters positive peer pressure.

The take-away is that it is imperative to realize that employees are key in providing customer service. To incentivize them to do so makes good sense, but watch how you do it. Bonuses are one way. What are other ways companies can help improve employees’ stake in customer service? Please share in the comments.

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