As a business owner, you must make your team the hero when it comes to your customers. After all, they are the face of your business. And, they’re the ones that will make or break the experience your customer has with your brand.
In this post, you’ll learn how to engage and train your team so they can, in turn, educate and offer your business’s solution in a way that’s effective, compelling, and keeps your customers coming back.
Why They’re the Hero
Your team members are your brand ambassadors. They are the ones that are face-to-face with your customers day in and day out. Frankly, they will deliver either success or failure to your business. And, if they aren’t clear on what the business offers, why customers should choose you, and aren’t on board with the way you play the game of business, they’re unknowingly playing the villain.
And this isn’t their fault.
As the business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your team is trained and engaged so they’re on the same page regarding your business goals, vision, and offer.
To do this, you’ve got to make them the hero.
After all, they are experts compared to the customer, and their wisdom should be showcased accordingly.
Customer engagement is critical to building relationships with your customers that keep them coming back and raving about your business. This is true regardless of the size of your business.
To cultivate a team that engages with its customers, your team must first be clear on what they’re selling, the value it provides, and what impact it makes on the customer and the business as a whole. Otherwise, prepare to have very frustrated team members and customers! Naturally, for the team to know these things and uphold the customer expectations you have set, you must communicate them. After all, they’re the ones that will need to deliver on those expectations.
As I say in my book, UpSolutions, “Full team engagement results in increased energy and productivity, less turnover, and better workplace culture.” Who doesn’t want that?
To make your team the hero, you must first create a culture where they feel like they are making a positive impact in the community and for their customers. If they’re proud of what they do and where they work, that energy will show in the engagement with your customers.
You can likely remember a time (or many!) when you went into a business and didn’t have a pleasant exchange with an employee. I sure do!
When I went into a retail store to purchase a gift card for a friend, the clerk at the desk turned her back on me to speak to a coworker about a recent concert before I had hardly even completed the transaction. With the warm receipt still in hand and my wallet on the counter, it was clear that she was done with me just as soon as the payment screen flashed, “Approved.”
This made me feel like a transaction instead of a valued customer. It was clear that, once he had collected my money, I was no longer needed nor appreciated.
I did not see that business’s team member as a hero, nor did I have any desire to return or rave about the business.
To set up a team of heroes, clear expectations and standards must be properly communicated and upheld. That way, the guesswork that leads to lower productivity, poor engagement, and lost opportunities can be eliminated. When your team is motivated by a sense of purpose, development, and autonomy — as Daniel Pink explains in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us — they feel like experts in their role and feel what they do matters.
Just like the true heroes they are.
And your customers will agree.
There are four key components to setting up a team of heroes:
- Value proposition training
- Clear position agreements
- Regular team communication
- Give frequent feedback
Everyone on your team must be trained on the value proposition of the business. This isn’t just what you sell but what the business specifically provides. Why is your solution unique? What makes your business special for not just customers, but team members?
When you train your team and make them experts in what they do, they’ll be driven by a sense of purpose.
To ensure your team is well-trained on the value proposition of your business, every person on your team should be able to answer these three questions:
- What value does your business provide?
- Why do customers choose you – and keep coming back?
- What do your customers say?
#2: Position Agreements
A position agreement goes beyond a basic job description and outlines the responsibilities and standards for each role’s success. Specificity is key here. For example, suppose a store clerk is responsible for greeting customers as they enter the store. In that case, a position agreement will specify that the greeting must be within 5 seconds of the customer’s entrance.
It’s easy to outline a job description with basic tasks and responsibilities. Everyone does that.
However, the problem with job descriptions is that they don’t communicate your specific, brand-aligned, and solutions-based standards or expectations.
See, if you compare job descriptions, there’s likely no difference between a clerk at your store and the store of one of your competitors. The magic, the thing that makes your team the hero and keeps your customers coming back, lies within your position agreements. That’s what sets your team and business apart from the rest.
#3: Team Communication
There’s no substitute or short-cut for regular, planned communication. Yes, you can optimize, automate, or perhaps even outsource parts of the communication process, but you can never replace good team communication with casual run-ins or one-off meetings.
The most successful independent companies I’ve worked with have structured meetings and agendas that consist of weekly huddles for small, internal teams and at least one monthly, company-wide meeting. The sessions can consist of a results summary from the previous week, relevant updates, and a round of goal-setting and commitments for the upcoming week.
The key here is for the communication to be structured and two-way, and not just from the top-down. Cross-team communication is just as essential to keep everyone on the same page, reduce confusion, and serve your clients better as a result.
For example, a client of mine created a virtual message board that he could share among his stores. Team members were trained to check the message board regularly, and knew to use it to post and read messages. Whether it was to announce the schedule or locate a customer’s order, the message board allowed for communications within the team to happen in an easy, organized, and efficient manner.
Regularity and structure keep everyone engaged, up to speed, and positioned as the hero in your customer’s eyes. It’s worthwhile to invest in the improved productivity and engagement of your heroes.
To assess team communications in your business, ask yourself:
- Do I host regularly scheduled, structured monthly meetings?
- Does my team – or specific groups within my team – meet on a daily or weekly basis?
- Is there a place where teammates can communicate with each other?
Regular and specific feedback is important so each team member knows what is and isn’t working in their role. I have found that the most effective feedback is given frequently – at least once a quarter – and lays out clear expectations for improvement and growth.
When you give corrective feedback, make sure it’s empowering, not disengaging.
Your team should be aware of your process for corrective feedback, as well as corrective action. I use a four-step corrective process: a verbal warning, a written warning, a final warning, and then if there’s no improvement, termination (or movement to another role that may be a better fit).
After all, as heroes, your team needs to know their role, its standards and expectations, how they’re doing, and what happens if they’re not the successful hero your customers and business needs.
I have found that the best feedback has three parts, done in order:
- Communicate what’s working (positive feedback)
- Communicate what’s not working (corrective feedback)
- Set clear expectations
For example, to start, you might communicate how well your employee interacts with customers. Make sure to be specific, draw on observations you have made, and perhaps even point out a recent interaction you witnessed. Then, communicate what’s not working, such as the employee has been late a few times. Take this time to specify why they matter, why their tardiness matters, and how it negatively impacts their teammates and the business.
Finally, after communicating what’s working and what’s not working, set clear expectations for the future. Remember: Get specific on what needs doing for the expectation to be met! In this example, the expectation would be for the teammate to be on time going forward, which may mean arriving to work 10 minutes early to take off their coat, get a fresh cup of coffee, and get settled in.
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