Job Description For Customer Service Sector

Writing a single job description for the customer service role would be pretty much impossible as it is a role that is found across almost all industries. Therefore the day to day tasks of someone involved in this role will vary almost to the point of infinity. The only thing that is consistent is that within such roles, it is up to you to ensure that the customer leaves both satisfied and interested in returning. I will now outline both why customer service is so important when it comes to whether or not customer returns to a business as well as how you can treat them in such a way that ensures that they do.

Why is Customer Service so Important?

Above all else when a customer deals with any business, they wish to be treated with respect and to be greeted by an employee who offers a genuine effort to provide them with the specific product or service that is advertised by said business. Though the quality of the product or service is in theory the most important thing, customers will forgive an imperfect product or service far faster than they will forgive an employee that appears indifferent to that level of perfection.

Consider two scenarios:

Scenario one involves an impeccable service or product delivered to a customer but done so in a manner that seems both indifferent and hazardous. A perfect example being a nice meal delivered without a smile or thank you.

Scenario two involves a customer being shown respect and being greeted by an employee who does their best for them however does not completely deliver. A perfect example being a particular item on the menu being sold out but the customer being made aware of this fact by an apologetic employee who does their best to replace it.

Of course, in the ideal situation impeccable customer service would be matched with a perfect meal. The fact is however that it is the second scenario that is most likely to lead to repeat business. Most customers are not looking for perfection, merely an attempt at providing it.

How to Provide Excellent Customer Service

Though there are many methods and techniques thought to potential customer service employees, essentially it all comes down to both having the right attitude and being able to illustrate it. The right attitude is simply to have respect for customers and to genuinely try to treat them as you would like to be treated if you were the customer. I will now outline three key ways of illustrating this attitude.

Use Positive Language

The art of effectively using positive language can be one that takes time to learn but once mastered will allow you to excel within your customer service role. The essential idea is that you always state what can be done as opposed to what cannot. For example if a product is out of stock, you state not that it is currently unavailable but that it will be available in three weeks and that it can currently be back ordered.

Genuinely Listen

This is perhaps the most common mistake made within the customer service environment. Nothing will infuriate a customer more than not being listened to, it is essentially the corner stone of illustrating that a customers needs are cared about. There are three key means of effectively listening to a customer. The first is that you focus on what they are saying and avoid all surrounding distractions. This sounds simple but most people do not operate in a distraction free environment and therefore truly focusing on an individual customer can be difficult. The second means of effectively listening is to establish both the key facts and the key feelings that are being illustrated by the customer. The last thing is that no matter your level of intelligence, you are not a computer and you do forget. Therefore if you are being told of a complex scenario, always take notes. A customer will not appreciate being listened to if two minutes later what has been said cannot be recalled.

Confirm Satisfaction

Whenever an encounter with a customer comes to an end, you need to visibly confirm that they are satisfied with the transaction, enquiry or solution. Doing so illustrates that you actually care about their satisfaction and are not just trying to get to the next customer as soon as possible. Also by asking them if they are satisfied you are illustrating that you believe that it is their definition of satisfaction that matters, not whether or not you believe that you have helped them sufficiently.

In conclusion, if you are planning on pursuing a career that involves a large amount of interaction with customers both current and potential, demonstrating an awareness of the importance of customer service and an ability to adequately provide it is probably the most important thing that you can do in your interview. Sadly, if you want to work with customers, you can practically be Einstein and it will be irrelevant if you do not know how to treat them.

Planning An Effective HR Strategy

A couple of years ago there were many mistakes that could be made with impunity but sadly this is no longer the case. If you want your business to survive, you need to maximize both productivity and efficiency in your organization and one of the key places to do this is by maximizing the effectiveness of your human resource strategies. Your employees make or break your business and though the current financial climate is forcing many companies especially small ones to really think about their HR strategy, there are still three mistakes that are commonly made. Many overlook the following three points and you overlook them at your peril.

The first mistake is not fully understanding or perhaps accepting the importance of ensuring that the knowledge acquired by departing workers during their time at the organization does not leave with them. Many managers accept that some employees that are trained at the cost of the organization do not stay for as long as was hoped, this is natural of course and it is unavoidable. However knowledge that is acquired by workers during the course of time that they have taken on a role can be left in order to benefit those that are about to take over the job. While a certain amount of knowledge will always be passed on, to ensure that as much as possible is transferred requires that specific knowledge transfer policies and mechanisms are in place. The number of companies implementing such policies and mechanisms is rising daily and if you are not already, you really need to be one of them.

The second mistake that if often made is failing to take into account the importance of having at the company’s disposal a workforce that is spread evenly across multiple demographics. The baby boomer generation is set to retire in the near future and this adds new challenges to those tasked with designing effective human resource strategies. Setting aside for the moment the fact that having a large percentage of the workforce being from this generation leads to very high staffing costs, you need to consider how your company will continue to function should many key players choose to retire within a short period of time. While implementing knowledge transfer policies can minimize the effect, these alone are not enough. Put simply, you need to ensure that you currently have at least some young people in key roles throughout your organization.

The last mistake that I will outline is pretty simple to understand. An effective HR strategy needs to take into account the future predictions for the company. While no human resources manager worth his pay grade will ignore such predictions completely, many either pay too little or too much attention to such predictions. If too much faith is put in to such predictions, the company will not continue to function efficiently should said predictions not come to fruition. Many companies make this mistake and for small businesses in particular it can have very serious consequences. However at the same point, taking a “we’ll deal with it when it happens” approach is equally hazardous. It is important to find a balance. A company is in a far safer position if they have a workforce that can function effectively should future predictions come true or not. A company that will generate massive profits if the director’s strategy comes true but will make heavy losses if it does not is not a company that you want to own.

So in conclusion, if you are working in the human resources department of an organization, these three mistakes need to be avoided if you want to safeguard your company from the perils that the recession is currently threatening. And if you are the owner of a company and your human resources manager is currently making these mistakes, maybe you need to find a new human resources manager.

Human Resource Management – An Overview

During the current financial climate, motivated staff are those that trust their organization to see them through the storm and therefore employee manager relations are more important than ever. If your human resources department is not proactively promoting positive feelings in this area, you will witness low employee morale and corresponding declines in both productivity and profits. There have been entire books written on exactly how to promote employee/employer relations and yet there are still some mistakes that a great number of organizations continue to make which I will now outline.

The original plan was a power point presentation, but then I decided against it due to the explanations required.

Endless Hierarchies

Many managers are of the belief that if level three workers are not doing their jobs properly, the answer is to create level four and onwards to infinity. Each level added puts an additional barrier between those at the bottom and those at the top and the further those at the bottom feel they are from the top the less incentive they have to trust them. It also greatly increases the difficulty involved in getting any form of communication between both parties including innovation which is likely to be stamped out at some level

Requests for input that are never put to use

I have already written in another post on this site just how important it is to involve employees in decisions. It not only leads to morale improvement but can also lead to a surprising amount of employee generated process innovations. What does not however lead to employee morale improving is creating a big song and dance about asking for their opinion and then not using any of the suggestions made.

Poor Conflict Management

There are two variations upon this mistake and each are just as damaging to employee morale. The first is obviously when conflicts are ignored in the belief that they will just go away on their own. Conflicts need to be handled and they especially need to be handled when one of the parties involved makes a complaint. Some company’s take a “boys will be boys” attitude to conflict and the result is a tense workplace and simmering resentments that go on indefinitely. An equally bad approach however is referring every single dispute. Some conflicts are born simply out of employees speaking their mind and having differing opinions. Organizations in which the slightest conflict is immediately mediated results in a significant drop in both morale and innovation. The point is that large conflicts cannot be ignored whereas smaller constructive conflicts need to be allowed to take place. Finding this balance is essential.

Poor or No Performance Management

The performance of each employee working for you must be monitored and subsequently rewarded in a consistent and documented manor. If an organization does not have a performance management system that offers explanation as to why some employees are promoted and others are not, problems will be encountered in the long term. Consider that a single employee out of a group of five in the same position is chosen for promotion. If you do not have a performance management system that is understood by all, the first problem is that morale will go down as no explanation is offered to the other four employees as to why the first employee was promoted and not them. This is a large problem in itself but when one employee begins to use the word discrimination as the unknown motive, you really will have a problem. An effective performance management system rules out the possibility of such a potentially damaging system.

Treat everything like it’s a priority/emergency

You really would be surprised just how common this sort of attitude is. The general idea is that everything that needs to be done is urgent and of grave importance. Every deadline must be met, each report hand delivered. Some managers actually believe that such behavior leads to increased productivity. Its fact however is the complete opposite as it generally just leads to employees believing that there are no real priorities, not bothering to work harder when there actually is an emergency and slowly adopting the view that management generally cannot be trusted.

In conclusion, these are the five most common mistakes that are made by management when it comes to employee/employer relations. These are frequently made in both small and large companies and they offer no advantage to either the workforce or management. Should your company be exhibiting even two of them, you may have a lot of thinking to do.

Human Resource Planning Process In 5 Steps

The human resource planning process consists of five steps, namely, demand forecasting, supply forecasting, auditing, reconciliation and control.

Demand Forecasting – The HR planning process starts with demand forecasting which essentially means forecasting both the number and the type of employees that an organisation is going to require in the medium to long term future. This obviously requires a pretty in-depth understanding of both the organisation and the market in which it operates. The aspects of the organisation that will affect the demand for employees are its future plans and strategies and how these stand in relation to the existing employee base.

The aspects of the market that will affect the demand for employees are the status of the economy i.e. whether or not it’s in the grip of a recession, the levels of competition faced, labour market trends and things like this. Adequately forecasting demand is important because it greatly affects the organisations profitability. If there are too many workers, the wage bill will be unnecessarily high but if there are too few workers than possible opportunities cannot be seized upon.

Supply Forecasting – This step is concerned with correctly assessing the capabilities of the existing staff in
order to determine whether the organisation can meet the forecasted demand as it stands. This is done through inventory analysis which consists of both establishing a skill inventory and forecasting future changes to it. A skill inventory is simply a detailed record of who works for the company and what they are capable of. This enables HR personnel to establish what role each employee can take in meeting the organisations future demands for labour. Forecasting future changes to the inventory is establishing likely resignations, retirements, leaves, transfers and the like and analysing the impact that they will have.

Auditing – This step of the HR planning process primarily involves analysing the results of the previous two steps. By analysing both the current supply and future demand of employees, areas of shortage or surplus can be identified. While this is the main aspect of this step, there are other activities carried out during the auditing step. It also involves establishing why resignations have taken place, how much such resignations are costing the organisation in terms of the skills and experience of employees that are leaving and how much it is costing to find replacements. If it then established that resignations are costing the organisation too much, means are established to prevent future resignations. The effectiveness of the organisation in areas such as recruitment and training is also analysed and again future changes established if it they are seen to be lacking.

Reconciliation – This step involves establishing the actions that need to be taken in response to the audit. The actions that are taken will obviously depend on the result of the audit. If a company is already performing optimally from a HR perspective then this step could be very light. If there is a large difference between forecasted supply and demand however a lot of action may need to be taken and it could take some time to rectify the situation. There are various actions that can be taken and they include:

  • Establishing and implementing strategies to recruit new employees
  • Establishing and implementing strategies to lay off existing employees in the event of a surplus
  • Revitalizing existing training and development plans in an effort to ensure that the organization continues to have an adequately sized and skilled workforce.
  • Identifying what employees are truly key to the organisation through both career analysis and planning and succession planning.
  • Radically altering current work practices such as work schedules and overtime policies.

An important aspect of this step is considering the implications of any actions that are taken. For a start, labour legislation must be followed and trade unions must be negotiated with if there are objections. Areas such as lay-offs and overtime are often heavily affected by both. There is also the question of whether the organisation currently has the resources required to make the changes that the audit has deemed necessary.

Control – The last step of the HR planning process is controlling and monitoring the implementation of the newly generated HR plan. This involves ensuring that the proposed changes do indeed come about and within the schedule that the HR plan dictates. Due to the fact that both the demand and supply of labour is constantly changing, a good HR plan will include mechanisms to ensure that necessary revisions are made well in advance of when they are needed. Part of the last step is to ensure that such mechanisms are indeed working and hence the final step is essentially ongoing.

How Human Resource Grades Salaries

The Importance of Appropriate Salaries

Grading positions within an organisation and then assigning salaries based upon said positions is one of the key roles of human resource management. Adequate grading and hence salaries are extremely important to an organisations competitiveness as the level of salary offered to employees affects both what employees are attracted to joining the organisation and how valued present employees feel and hence the likelihood that they will remain at the company. Without adequate salaries being offered, good employee-employer relations are impossible and without such an organisation cannot prosper.

The Three Key Issues to Consider in Setting Salaries

When considering the salary level most appropriate for a particular position, there are three key things issues that need to be considered. The first is that salaries across the organisation must be consistent. By this I mean, that it must be in line with the companies overall grading structure. If an employee has a higher grade than another than that employees salary must be higher. This ensures that equal work is given equal pay.

Continue reading “How Human Resource Grades Salaries”

What is Leadership?

This question is the subject of countless student essays, endless governmental speeches and various seminars that cost quite a bit to sit through. Though it is obviously debatable and such debate will continue among academics for years to come, here are ten characteristics that many agree are required in order to be a good leader.

Passionate

A good leader needs to be both passionate about the work that he is doing and about those that are helping him to do it. It is this passion that enables him to inspire those around him to greatness. His passion is both highly visible and contagious.

Compassionate

A good leader will care about those that are helping him to achieve his vision and therefore will treat them with respect. He will accept that people are not machines but human beings who make mistakes. While expecting hard work, he will not demand perfection.

Possess Integrity

A good leader will not talk just to hear his own voice, he will mean every word that he says and in doing so will earn respect. He is someone that upon making a guarantee delivers upon said guarantee and in doing so he is known as trustworthy and reliable. He will be persuasive but he will not manipulate and he will treat those below him with as much respect as he treats those above him.

Great Communicator

A good leader will be an expert at explaining himself and his goals. He will of course be comfortable with public speaking but will also be a good listener. He will have a way with people and be highly capable of persuading people to follow his lead. Such communication skills will be part of the reason that people are willing to accept him as their leader.

Charismatic

Though not strictly a requirement, the majority of great leaders are captivating individuals. It is within such charisma and charm that their lives as leaders are made easier, often able to take control of situations with minimal effort. People are drawn to and respect charismatic leaders.

Vision

A good leader requires vision. It is through such vision that he can lead others in such a way that results can be achieved and deadlines met. He will know exactly where he wants to go and both how to get there and how to help others get there too. It is through such vision and confident communication of that vision that a good leader can motivate those around him.

Disciplined

A good leader will not just expect discipline but be disciplined himself. Upon taking on a project, he will remain focused on it until completion. He will not stand by and expect others to do the work; he will frequently be the hardest worker out of the team that he is leading.

Daring

A good leader will never be afraid to stand up for what he believes to be right. In order to be a leader, decisions will have to be made that are both popular and unpopular. Though he will not be afraid to admit when he was wrong, he will also not be afraid to assert his opinion, regardless of the opinion of those around him, if he believes himself to be right.

Wise

A truly great leader will not only be intelligent but wise. History is full of intelligent but unwise leaders and the lack of said wisdom was frequently their downfall. The life of a leader typically involves the need to make important decisions, to truly be a great leader, the wisdom to know the right call is required.