Customer service case study – Employee recruitment and motivation

One of the pillars that ensure customer service becomes a competitive advantage for the organization, is the quality of employees that the organization has at its disposal. Berry (2009) for instance argues out the role that “great employees” help in creating a competitive advantage for the entity, in terms of the service they offer to the customers. According to the article, the primary mistake that companies make with respect to their workforce quality is hiring individuals who may never effectively perform service. Such a perspective is reinforced by arguments that “failure of customer relationship management (CRM) can usually be blamed on insufficient attention given to employee input into production and delivery of the process” (Improving customer service, 2009).  Accordingly, organizations that have excellent customer service usually have credible hiring processes that enhance their chances of getting the appropriate talent (Berry, 2009).

Accordingly, Wal-Mart needs to evaluate strategies that would help it attract qualified talent to its organization. One of the ways that has increasingly received approval in influencing qualified persons to apply for advertised positions the credibility and effectiveness of the recruitment process. Despite job characteristics such as remuneration, flexibility in the working hours and the tasks to be performed influencing the eventual decision to apply for a job (Rynes & Cable, 2003), aspects such as design of the website have been associated with ensuring applicants complete the application process (Breaugh, 2008). Such a perspective implies that organizations that are keen on ensuring the right talent applies for the position it advertises need to have credible recruitment practices in addition to the attractive qualities associated with the job. Disregarding recruitment process, has for instance been argued to reduce the level of awareness that potential employees have of the vacancy advertised (Breaugh, 2008). Secondly, poor treatment of candidates during the recruitment process could also lead to qualified individuals dropping out of the recruitment thus leaving out only those who are desperate for a job, rather than those who are qualified to perform the job (Breaugh, 2008). Accordingly, the entity ends up with employees who do not fit the position’s responsibilities, thus increasing the likelihood that they will perform poorly.

For the recruitment process to be credible and reliable, the organization would first need to set recruitment objectives, developed through a well-delineated recruitment strategy (Breaugh, 2008). Such a strategy takes into account such aspects as when recruitment activities should begin and end, what recruitment message will be floated to attract qualified candidates, and the people and departments that will take part in the recruitment processes (Breaugh, 2008). By evaluating such objectives, the entity is capable of determining whether it will perform the recruitment in-house, or outsource some of the recruitment activities to save management time. Further, identifying these objectives would help the organization come up with best-suited strategies to reach the targeted candidates for recruitment (Breaugh, 2008). Such perspectives imply that, for Wal-Mart to attract qualified staff for its customer service services, it needs to not only address aspects related to the quality of the job, but also establish objectives that ensure it attracts the right individuals for the jobs it offers.

Recruitment is not however the factor that ensures companies retain talent; such a function is provided by the talent management, work environment and employee benefits provided by the entity. As noted by Berry (2009), organizations do not only need to attract the right talent but also institute measures that ensure such talent remains within the organization. According to Sennet (2008), one way of ensuring that such talent remains within the organization is to create “good work” for employees to perform (as cited in Berry, 2009, p. 310). Good work according to this perspective is that which is “challenging, energizing, developmental … [and] and leads somewhere, and is good for the soul, not just the wallet” (Berry, 2009, p. 310). Accordingly, such a job is argued to attract and maintain quality talent within the organization, and spur the workforce to contribute their best efforts towards performing their job (Berry, 2009). When an organization is able to tap into such a motivated workforce, such become the source of competitive advantage for the firm since they engage in activities that promote customer experience in their interactions with the customer (Berry, 2009).

To buttress the effect of employee motivation on outcomes of customer service initiatives, Brown and Lam (2008) present a meta-analysis of “relationships linking employee job satisfaction to customer satisfaction and perceived service quality in studies that correlate employee data with customer data” (p. 243). From their assessment of such studies, Brown and Lam conclude that employee satisfaction is positively correlated with customer satisfaction and enhances the perception of customers about the service offered. Such a perspective implies that entities need to develop ways to drive employee satisfaction as an antecedent to customer satisfaction.

Various ways exist through which entities such as Wal-Mart could motivate their employees to remain committed to customer service improvement. One of these as identified by Macaulay and Cook (1994b) is empowering employees by allowing them an opportunity to make some decisions, for which they will be accountable. The benefit of such an approach to customer service is that it allows issues that arise to be sorted quickly without having to undergo bureaucratic processes (Macaulay & Cook, 1994b). Accordingly, management ought to encourage its employees who deal with customers on a day-to-day basis to use their discretion to solve customer issues they feel they are capable of addressing effectively. By allowing this flexibility, employees develop a sense of self-worth thus initiate practices that would better their skills to provide a broader level of service (Improving customer service, 2009). Empowerment can further be enhanced by clarifying the expected performance of any one individual so that employees can learn when teamwork is better advised to individual efforts (Improving customer service, 2009). By allowing individuals to take responsibility of various customer care services, Wal-Mart could for instance avoid widespread dissatisfaction that arises with endless transfers to find the person who can sort as simple an aspect as finding the location of certain goods within the store being widespread (, 2011).

Secondly, employee motivation can arise by creating an environment of trust and respect. Bette (2011) in this respect notes that since customer service is a leadership issue, an important obligation for the leaders is to create an environment of trust. By providing such an environment, employees who feel trusted, would strive to improve their performance to avoid betraying the trust accorded to them (Improving customer service, 2009). Such trust environment can for instance be cultivated through highlighting similarities among the employees and avoiding portrayals of rank and status that one holds in the organization (Improving customer service, 2009). A strategy for instance that would motivate employees who offer customer service to customers, would be the senior management taking occasional breaks from their schedules to offer customer service in their stores (Freemantle, 1994). Through such a process, the senior management would reinforce their commitment to customer service initiatives thus help motivate employee commitment to such initiatives.

A third factor that would help motivate employees to provide better customer care services is instituting performance measures that factor in aspects of customer service provision. Most measures such as revenues used to measure success such measures may not prove effective metrics to assess customer service. Accordingly, when such measures are used, employees who have exhibited exemplary customer service may fail to be recognized thus demotivating them from continued commitment to customer service initiatives. To avoid such a scenario, performance measures in respect to customer service ought to incorporate aspects such as behavior-based evaluation, so as to rightfully assess cases where enhanced employee input may better the experience for the customer (Improving customer service, 2009).

Finally, Motivation encompasses an aspect of reward and appreciation for the services provided (Improving customer service, 2009). Rewards in this respect do not imply the salary that the individual is offered, but rather additional benefits that could be offered to the employees who offer quality customer service to motivate their commitment. Such rewards may also inspire those employees not performing their best to improve on their service provision. Appreciation could range from a simple “thank you” note that makes the individual feel valued to benefits such as paid vacations. Additionally, entities could link aspects such as promotions, and bonuses to customer service performance so as to inspire employees to improve their customer service initiatives. Evaluating these aspects, could help Wal-Mart improve its customer service practices thus enhance customer satisfaction, which, in turn, could help it remedy the declining same-store sales it is experiencing in its stores in the U.S. Go to part 6 here

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