Teaching Employees Ethics Can Transform Your Service Model

Imagine this scenario – You just finished training your employees in the fine art of “the customer is always right.” You’ve gone over role play scenarios, offered advice about how to handle various customer disputes, and given your technicians and office staff what you think are fail-proof methods to enhance your customer service quality. As you come back from lunch, you overhear the receptionist shrieking at a customer and see her hang up on the person.

You can train employees until you're blue in the face, but there is no possible way to figure out every single customer service scenario they might encounter. This is especially true with technicians out in the field, who might encounter just about anything. That's why it is more important to train them in the ethics and philosophies of your company. You can use role playing situations, modeling and many other techniques, which I'll outline in this article along with a common sense approach to teaching field techs and office staff to treat customers the way the owner would.

The Hidden Problem with Poor Customer Service

Typically, a business only hears from 4% of customers who aren't satisfied. That means there are 96% who don't complain. Instead, they won't come back to you the next time they need your type of services and they won't tell their friends to use your services. When you stop and think about the costs involved in obtaining a customer, you realize how important it is to retain each and every one.

Company Philosophy

Before you can train others in what the philosophy and ethics of your company are, you have to define them for yourself. Answer the following questions to get a better idea of what you believe about your company and your customer:

  • Why do I do what I do?
  • How does what I do help others?
  • What is the one thing I hope people say about my company?
  • What causes are important to me?
  • How would I want my mother/sister to be treated by a similar company?
  • What is my competition doing and how can I go above and beyond with my customer service.

Once you’ve answered those four questions, you’ll have the basis for why you do what you do and how you want your customers to be treated.

Training Employees in Philosophy and Ethics

Ethics is one of those things that can be difficult to define, but defining your company ethics is a great toolkit to provide your employees with so they know what is expected of them and what you won’t tolerate. In order to write up an ethics manual, you have to really know each and every job within your company and the situations employees might face.

For example, what should your technicians do if they are in the middle of a job and a domestic dispute arises between husband and wife? This type of situation can be extremely touchy, because getting involved in a simple argument isn’t wise, but if someone is being physically abused then it is a dangerous situation for everyone there.

Some clear steps you need to take to ensure employees are well trained:

  • Write up a code of ethics manual of dos and don’ts and distribute to every employee.
  • Hold an information session and go over the dos and don’ts. Allow employees to ask any questions they might have.
  • Conduct ongoing training and offer role play situations so that employees can practice handling different scenarios.
  • Address ethics violations quickly and with a clear set of criteria with which you handle them (verbal warning, written warning, time off, etc.).

Once you’ve explained how you want customers treated and your goals as a company, encourage employees to actively put these principles into practice with customers. Check in with you technicians to find out how things are going and if they feel they are able to implement the company ethics effectively. Taking the time to do so will show how much you value customer service and doing the right thing by the customer.

Set the Tone as the Owner/Leader

One of the biggest reasons companies fail in ethics training is the company leaders not modeling the ethics themselves. It is important that the same rules apply to everyone. If you have one manager who loses her cool and screams at employees who make a mistake, then employees may think there are no consequences for such behavior and may scream at a customer when frustrated.

Novarete, a leader in training companies have to have a strong culture, pointed out: “If you want your employees to make decisions with a strong set of values, you have to be the best example of what ethical decision-making looks like.”

As a leader, any change in the company is going to start with you and trickle its way down through the company.

Lori Soard

Lori Soard

Lori is a freelance writer for IE3. She has a BA in English and PhD in Journalism and have been published in several magazines
Lori Soard

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