photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewvenn/366986172
photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewvenn/366986172

In my experience, successful organizations do a few things right when it comes to people. Not only do they do a great job attracting, discovering, and retaining people, they do a great job at “catching people doing something right.” What does that mean, exactly? Finding and celebrating individual effort is something more than rewarding someone for pulling an all-nighter when you needed them. It means more than naming someone the employee of the month and giving them a preferred parking spot. And it means more than just naming all of the people on a successful project team. But what else should you be doing?

Great organizations catch what people do right because they have a basic idea in mind for what constitutes success, and they give their people enough responsibility and authority to get things done and to produce measurable results for the business. These organizations also succeed in building bench strength by showing everyone else exactly what someone did when they “did the right thing.”

So how do you capture the knowledge of doing something right and help the company (and your fellow workers) benefit without adding a layer of process around documenting and recording kudos? And how can you find the things that really made a difference, instead of just noticing the people or projects who were the loudest in their self-congratulation?

Here are a few customer service ideas to make this happen and to make catching people doing something right part of the fabric of your organization and to use this knowledge and insight to drive content, process, and tools that will help other people in the company do some of these same things. If “doing something right” becomes contagious, you can build an amazing company where people help each other and make sure that the big and small things just get done – and done right. 

Find the success stories in everyday answers

If you manage cases in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or support management system, you probably have the ability to add tags or labels as metadata to your cases. So why not make a tag that you add to a case whenever you catch someone doing something right? Don’t work too hard to define the criteria – just let your team know that it’s the result of a standout performance where you felt like you would be delighted to be the customer in this situation.

You could use these same tags or style of management to identify situations that require new knowledge content (oops – we didn’t have an article for that), a revision in existing content (that used to be true, and now it’s a little less true or needs a rewrite), or removal of existing content (that product or feature’s not here any more.) Using a continuous improvement process to catch your organization doing something right and using that learning to drive tangible change in the way you do business is a powerful message. The message is: we care about your insights and observations and we want to use those to make our business better for the customer (and for you.)

Milk has an expiration date – shouldn’t your content?

If you have online content, you undoubtedly have some old online content. Why haven’t you reviewed it to see if it’s stale? Probably because when you started writing, you didn’t think of a time when that piece of content would no longer be relevant. One easy thing you can do is to place an expiration date on your content. If that’s too much work, just place a mental note to look at everything you’ve got once a quarter. Read it, think about it, and if it’s no longer valuable, rewrite it or delete it.

Catching someone doing something right in the context of searching for, writing, and reviewing content also means making sure that content comes across in the voice of the product or service. Asking people, “How should we sound?” when you think about the brand voice means not only the literal words and also the tone that we use. Everyone should know when something feels off brand, because they’ll just feel that it doesn’t sound right.

Give People a Project

The next time someone asks “how can I help” or “I’d like to do more of that,” give them a project. That might not mean giving them the project they’ll be able to do at scale. And it does mean asking them to act differently towards a bigger goal. It means catching them doing something right and determining how to do that, only bigger. Companies that find the people doing something right, give them more to do, and repeat that process do well over the long term.

All of these solutions are simple, yet implementing them is not simple. It takes more than adding a few ideas to your plate to build an organization that identifies its flaws, catalogs ways to fix them, and champions its own people to do the work and find the solutions. And people are the key – give them the process and tools to do the work and they will be able to do interesting things, improve the business and build a repeatable way of delivering that success.

You can find 47 other ways to improve the customer experience here.

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