Next time you get bad customer service, don't blame the person on the other end of the phone. Blame their employer. It's not bad employees, but poor corporate policies that are keeping businesses from providing top-notch customer service, new research finds.
A study by Maritz Research found that employees often feel their hands are tied by corporate policies that focus on bottom-line needs rather than those of the customers they are supposed to serve.
Only 8 percent of the employees surveyed say their company's policies and procedures make it easy to satisfy customers, while just 13 percent have the authority needed to respond promptly to customer problems and requests.
"They want to help the customer, but feel they don’t have the authority, or existing policies prevent them from doing so effectively or sometimes at all," said Rick Garlick, senior director of consulting for the hospitality research group at Maritz Research. "This adds a lot of weight to the unfortunately common phrase heard by customers: 'I wish I could help you, but…'"
Overall, just 11 percent of the employees polled believe the policies, systems and procedures at their company support the delivery of outstanding customer service, with only 9 percent working at a company that frequently seeks suggestions for improving customer satisfaction from employees who have regular contact with customers. In addition, just 8 percent work at a company that has effective formal programs and processes for improving customer satisfaction.
When employees become the '"fall guy" because their hands are tied by poor customer service policies, nobody wins, Garlick said.
"In such scenarios, the customer is not helped (and may be lost as a result), the employee feels helpless and inadequate and the company’s bottom line suffers," he said. "There is a lot of talk about how happy employees result in happy customers, but little discussion of how unhappy customers produce disengaged employees."
The research was based on surveys of 2,879 full-time U.S. employees.