We sat around a conference table in one of the most prominent buildings in Philadelphia. The Senior Vice President for Customer Service was frustrated and perplexed. A recent customer survey showed a great deal of customer dissatisfaction with the level of customer service they received at the company’s call center.
One of the reasons for the frustration was the senior VP seemed to be doing a lot of the right things. She had developed and communicated a simple vision that everyone in the organization was able to understand. She made a point to get out to the several call centers the company had. She met with leaders and average workers and communicated a clear and consistent message. Her communication strategy was perfect.
We left the meeting confused over why the customer service ratings were so low.
Metrics Must Align with Intent
A few days later I asked our consulting team to review the performance metrics the call center director had developed. The performance metrics were trending up which was a good thing based on the metrics that the director established. But there was one large glaring problem.
What we found provided an answer as to why the customer service survey showed customer dissatisfaction. The metrics, which the call center representatives knocked out of the park, were all oriented on reducing the time the representatives spent on a call with the customer.
In their quest to deliver on meeting performance metrics, the customer service representatives were rushing customers off the calls without solving the customer’s problems.
The performance metrics the call center director developed, and the call center representatives were being evaluated on and rewarded for were not aligned with the operational vision and intent of the Senior VP for Customer Service.
The next day my team brought this observation to the VP. The light shed on the issue illuminated the disconnect occurring within the organization. Immediately, the performance metrics were adjusted.
Three months later, the results of an updated customer satisfaction survey were produced. The uptick in customer satisfaction was incredible. Case solved.
The lesson learned here is important. Employees will deliver the quality of work they are rewarded for, whether that be speed, customer service, or attention to detail. The care leaders need to take is to ensure rewards and performance metrics are synchronized with the behavior you want employees to display.
Inspire Positive Performance
Leaders must motivate and inspire followers to work toward the purpose and imperatives that the leader develops and communicates to everyone in the organization. It is all about getting everyone to row in the same direction with the same amount of intensity.
When I commanded the 28th Infantry Division my Command Sergeant Major (CSM), the senior enlisted man in an outfit of 15,000 Soldiers, was instrumental in helping me craft my vision and my commander’s intent which included our overarching purpose for being.
One of the things we knew we had to inspire our Soldiers to do was to overcome adversity. We were both combat Veterans and we were aware of the rigors that come with a combat deployment.
Deployments to a combat zone are not for the faint of heart. In keeping with the spirit of overcoming adversity and resiliency, we gave out a resiliency award every year. Resiliency was also one of our nine “Iron Imperatives” that we formulated for the Division.
The CSM and I spoke about resiliency every time we met with a group of Soldiers. Our Soldiers understood the importance of being fit, resilient, and well-trained early on in my command tenure and the tenure of my CSM.
It also helped that my CSM and all the senior leaders who served with me were on the same page in terms of communicating our imperatives.
Our teammates understood that they would be rewarded with promotions and awards if they focused on achieving our imperatives. More importantly to me, I knew they would be rewarded with the increased probability of returning home safely from a combat deployment if they entered the fray fit, resilient, and well-trained.
Ensure everyone who you lead understands what is important to you and ensure your reward and recognition program is aligned with what you say is important.
Ensure the entire leadership team is consistent with the messages they communicate.
Help your teammates understand the greater purpose of the work they do.