Over the past ten years, several corporate bodies have reached out to my team and I to train their staff on customer services. In almost all these training sessions, I hear this sentence ‘Ama, you should train our managers too’. And so I have had the opportunity to serve thousands of employees and managers in hundreds of corporate organisations. Seriously, if I had a Cedi for every time I heard that, I would be a ‘thousandniare’ haha! Of course, everyone needs personal development, including leaders. And so today, I write on common mistakes I see some business owners and leaders make.
This is important because these mistakes affect customer service delivery which also hurts acquisition and retention. In other words, the business owner’s profits. Here are the 5 + 1 bonus mistake:
Not educating ALL employees about the company culture
I remember one of the very first jobs I had in my early twenties. I was so excited to finally have a real corporate job in Ghana. The company was a multi-national brand and I was hired to join their front of house team. On my first day, I wore my best suit and high heels, fully expecting to have a welcoming environment.
However, my excitement turned to confusion a few minutes after I had walked in. The branch manager said what now? As soon as I introduced myself, he welcomed me and said to go to the reception and start working. I kid you not, apart from the company’s name I barely knew anything else about them. All sorts of thoughts went running through my head.
What if a customer came asking me questions? Etc. Eish!
You see, prior to this experience I had spent 6 weeks training to be a Customer Service Person at a Call Center. Before that, many of the other jobs I had included at least a few days of orientation. Even the Agency jobs. Yes, this particular job was also a temporary job. I suspect that had I been full time, I would have been made to spend time going through orientation before being allowed to even smell customers. I later found out I was right. Question: what happens when a newbie is not properly oriented/trained before being asked to attend to customers?
Excluding some employees in key soft skills training programs
I recall a time when I went to pitch a customer service training program to the manager of a certain company. When he asked for the target participants, I started ‘Accounting staff, Security Personnel, Drivers, Receptionists…’ He quickly stopped me right there, saying customer service training was for receptionists only. OK oh, but here is the problem; customers pass through several ‘hands’ before reaching the reception. Are the Security Personnel well trained to attend to them? What about the drivers who pick customers up from the airport, etc?
Time and time again, I have seen how managers exclude especially support staff from soft skills training. This is really not the best move if you desire to have a uniform corporate culture. If you’ve ever encountered poor service at the accounts office of a company, you would understand me. Not surprisingly, these back of house staff are made to undergo technical training. The only issue is with soft skills training.
Not leading by example
Need I elaborate on this? I wonder who came up with ‘Do as I say, not as I do’? It’s amazing how we are very OK with making rules for others as long as they don’t apply to us. For instance, a company may have ‘respectful’ as one of its values. You will see this word framed on the wall of staff areas for all staff to see. Yet, a manager will not hesitate to insult a staff openly, right in front of the word ‘respectful’. Oh I’m sorry, was that for staff only?
Not hiring the right fit
This mistake deserves a standing ovation. And yes, hiring the right person is easier said than done. I should know, I worked in Human Resources for over 8 years. When you are in HR or in charge of a company, all sorts of requests come to you. Some of the letter heads can put the fear of God into you. Other times, it’s family and friends giving you pressure to do them favours by hiring their people.
The problem arises when the person hired is not fit for the job. Or has an attitude because he/she knows the real boss. Ei asem oh! One of my mentors – Joseph Kyei Ankrah – once said’ ‘Don’t hire someone you can’t fire’. For instance, if you know you can’t fire your mother-in-law, don’t hire her in the first place. Also, sometimes it’s not even a matter of the person joining the company, it is their job description that may not be correct. Like I said, this is easier said than done. However, in the interest of the company we really have to think carefully before taking action. Or?
Not giving honest feedback to staff
Let me clear my throat for this one. I know, I know, this is not easy for some managers. Say Kwabena has been hired as a Housekeeping Manager. He had over 5 years experience already before joining. In fact, he was actually poached from a competitor hotel where he was a Housekeeping Supervisor. From his first week of employment, we notice he keeps dropping the ball, making reckless mistakes, etc. This keeps happening.
Question: what performance management systems do we have in place to capture how this issue is dealt with. Unfortunately, this happens sometimes: the manager is unhappy but keeps smiling with Kwabena.
And then BAM, one day he fires Kwabena out of the blue. No warning shots at all. And Kwabena is left wondering what exactly he did wrong.
Posting a memo on the notice board and expecting staff to read and understand.
Now I know I said 5 mistakes but I just had to add this bonus mistake. This is one I made over and over again myself when I used to be in charge of my company’s HR Department. I remember how we used to make management decisions in the boardroom. Then I would sit at my desk and type a beautiful memo about the new directive with all my British English. I would post it on the notice board and expect everyone to read it. Imagine my frustration when these directives were not followed! Who exactly was at fault here?
Well let me pause here. God willing, next week I will be back to delve into the proposed solutions to these mistakes I have mentioned. Meanwhile, if you are a business owner or leader, please ask: am I making any of these mistakes:
*Not educating ALL employees about the company culture
*Excluding some employees in key soft skills training programs
*Not leading by example
*Not hiring the right fit
*Not giving honest feedback to staff
*Posting memo on the notice board and expecting staff to read and understand
Until next week God willing, stay absolutely fabulous!
PS: Would you like to take your customer service to the next level? Start by signing up for our virtual Customer Service Training For Professionals happening on Saturday 24th April, 2021. Call/WhatsApp +233246252330 or click https://bit.ly/VirtualCustomerServiceTraining
Photo by: Vera Obeng Photography