Recently I had a disagreement with my insurance company about how a claim was being handled. I felt the woman I was talking to might be seeing my side of things, almost agreeing with me, but she seemed to be in a quandary about what to do. She was concerned about “company policy.” As a result, she was a bit confrontational. Finally, I said, “You have an awesome responsibility.”
She asked, “What do you mean?”
Frankly, at the time I wasn’t even sure what I meant? But it just came out. I said, “Right now, you are representing your company. In my mind, you, just you, are the company. You are probably the person who will determine whether I continue to do business with your company or decide to take my insurance somewhere else. When someone asks me why I do or don’t do business with you, it will be because of you. I will say something like, ‘They take care of me’ or ‘they wouldn’t take care of me.’ And, you know what? I will actually be referring to you. You are the company.”
She said, “Wow, I never thought of it that way.” I actually think she understood me.
She told me to hold while she consulted with a supervisor. She came back on the phone a few minutes later and asked if she could call me back. An hour later our issue was resolved to my satisfaction. Why?
My customer service rep had become empowered. The sad thing was that I, as the customer, had to do it.
Lesson: It is important for every employee who has any contact with a customer to realize that at any given time, they represent the company. They are the brand, the image – they are everything about the company. While they may not be in a position to make the next sale, they are very capable of losing it. Every dollar the company spends on marketing, advertising and PR is potentially resting on one person’s shoulders. A building and a sign do not make a company. People make a company. And, they can make a business successful – or in some unfortunate instances, very unsuccessful.
Accept the responsibility.