Friday, November 27, 2015

Thank You for Your Business

Image courtesy of hellojenuine
How often do you say "thank you" to your customers?

Yesterday, across the United States, individuals and families celebrated Thanksgiving and set aside some time to give thanks for all of the blessings in their lives.

While it's awesome to have a day set aside just for that, it's never a bad thing to adopt an attitude of gratitude every day.

Imagine if businesses did the same thing, adopted a daily attitude of gratitude? Or also made Thanksgiving about being thankful for what they have? (A few do.) Instead, they've spent the week shoving Black Friday sales and deals down our throats so they can make their year-end revenue goals. But I digress; this post isn't about that.

Ralph Marston said:
What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it – would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have.
This makes me think of two things, both of which fall under the umbrella statement: Businesses need to appreciate the customers they have. (1) They need to be sure to say "thank you for your business" at every available opportunity; if they don't, well, customers have a lot of other options to choose from. (2) They need to remember that retention is more important (and less costly) than acquisition.
Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.
Appreciate the customer standing in front of you.

That doesn't always mean the customer is physically standing in front of you; it also refers to all of the customers you have today, regardless of where they are. It means to focus on what you have, not on what you don't have (or hope to have some day).

When companies express gratitude, they don't have to offer discounts or freebies. A thank you is a thank you. It doesn't have to be about getting more business today or down the line (by including a coupon). It's about appreciating the business you already have. And if you get the experience right - expressing appreciation simply supports what has already been done. And the business will come.

Keep in mind that you'll want to express appreciation to your customers for their business when they walk in the door (acquisition), on a regular basis throughout the relationship, and when they leave (cancel, churn). Yes, even (especially) when customers end the relationship, be sure to thank them for their business. It leaves a great last impression, which in turn becomes a lasting impression.

By the way, everything I've said applies to your employees, too. Regularly showing appreciation for what they do goes a long way to delivering a great employee experience.

I'd like to take a moment to say "thank you" to you for continuing to follow me, for reading my posts, for commenting, and for being interested in what I write about. It's been four years since I started this blog, and you inspire me to continue writing every week!

You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you. -Sarah Ban Breathnack

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Customer Service Matchmaking

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I originally wrote today's post for Mattersight. It was published on their blog on May 29, 2015.

Placing a call to customer support just got a little nicer and a little easier.

Think about the last time you called a company's customer service number. Did you feel like you connected with the rep who answered the phone? Did the approach the rep took with you fit how you talk to others? Did your personalities mesh or clash?

Now, think about the next time you need to call. Does it make you cringe?

I know how painful it can be to call customer service. There's the IVR menu that requires 17 prompts to get to the rep. And then the wait time for a rep to actually take/answer your call. Then the rep asks you questions that he should already know the answers to, based on the number you called from or the information you input through the IVR. And the time it takes to understand the issue, never mind to resolve it. All the while, you hope that the rep is patient, helpful, and nice. And more.

The following outlines four things that companies need to remember as they design the customer service experience.

1. First impressions are so important
What is the first thing that you want your customers to know, hear, see, or experience with/about your brand? I can guarantee you that it's something positive. If that first impression isn't positive, then the chance that they'll pursue a(nother) purchase or a relationship is slim to none. No. Let's just call it what it is; the chance is none. The first impression sets the tone for what lies ahead; it sets expectations. Make it a great one!

2. Treat customers the way they want to be treated
The Platinum Rule states: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them, not as you would have them do unto you. Contrary to the Golden Rule, which focuses on treating others the way you want to be treated, the Platinum Rule recognizes that we don't all want to be treated the same, that we want to be treated the way we want to be treated. This Rule is much more empathetic.

3. Personalize the experience for the customer
We are all different. We all have different needs, different feelings, different thoughts, different preferences, different perceptions, etc. As such, we want and need to be treated differently. Deliver a different experience to/for different people.

4. Train for skills but hire for attitude
You know the drill: Hire for attitude, train the skills. Get the right people in the door - not just those folks who fit your culture or your values but also those who truly want to be there, for the right reason. Hiring people with great attitudes (nice, friendly, professional, willing to help, courteous, empathetic, etc.) will help them connect with customers much easier than those folks with a bad attitude that no one wants to be around or talk to. Hire for attitude. Happy employees are more likely to yield happy customers.

These four items are important for any call center (or retail outlet, or for that matter, anywhere  frontline staff are interacting with customers) to embrace. Wouldn't it be cool if there was a tool to help your call center with a couple - if not all - of these?

Well, there is. And it is cool.

Mattersight developed an award-winning solution, Predictive Behavioral Routing, that automatically matches customers to like-minded reps. Using algorithms that analyze customer speech for tone, tempo, and syntax to identify the customer's personality type and behavioral preferences, Mattersight can easily and instantly route each caller to agent who has demonstrated a high level of rapport with that type. When that match is made, agents can more easily and more genuinely help customers; the whole process becomes more efficient, and without a doubt, this makes for a better experience for customers.

Forrester researched - and developed a case study based on - Mattersight's predictive behavioral routing and discovered that companies that used this system experienced four benefits:
  1. incremental revenue
  2. reduced customer service cost and effort
  3. improved customer satisfaction
  4. reduced hiring costs due to a decrease in turnover
Not only does this tool improve the customer experience, but it enhances the employee experience, as well. When reps are paired with customers they're easily able to communicate with, there's an increase in positive interactions, which translates to a greater sense of pride because they are able to perform their jobs better.

It's a win-win all around. And you can see how this system can help companies deliver on the four customer experience design requirements I outlined above.

The bottom line is that people buy from people; and people especially like to buy from - or interact with -  people they like and connect with.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. -Mother Teresa

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cracking the Code on Customer Journey Mapping

Image courtesy of Crack the Customer Code
Have some questions about journey mapping? You're not the only one!

I recently sat down with Jeannie Walters and Adam Toporek for a Crack the Customer Code podcast on one of my favorite topics: journey mapping.

During this podcast, I answered their questions about customer experience and, more specifically, about journey mapping. I shared some tips and ideas that I hope you find useful.

You'll find our chat in Episode #68 of Crack the Customer Code. Jeannie and Adam asked me questions like:

  • Customer experience transformation happens in baby steps. Can you elaborate on that?
  • How can you take advantage of quick wins?
  • How do you describe and define customer journey mapping?
  • What are some of the key principles of journey mapping?
  • What is the balance between how detailed journey maps should go and making sure you get at the core of the experience?
  • What is the one thing any organization can do to get started, without undergoing a massive journey mapping effort? What are some of the basics they can start with?

Be sure to listen for Adam's very profound statements about journeys and journey mapping. I think you'll enjoy this conversation!

For more information about journey mapping and the items we discussed in this podcast, here are some related blog posts:

Journey Maps Are Not an Exercise in Futility
Hey! You Got Your Metrics in My Journey Map!
5 Basic Journey Mapping Principles

If you've not had time to listen to other Crack the Customer Code podcasts, make the time to do it. They are fast-moving, information-packed conversations. 

Thanks, Jeannie and Adam!

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. -John Steinbeck

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Get Ready for Your Customer Journey Mapping Workshop!

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today's post is a modified version of a post I originally published on Touchpoint Dashboard's blog on June 15, 2015.

You’ve got buy-in and commitment … all the right people in your company are on board to map your customers’ journeys. They realize the importance of walking in the customer’s shoes in order to understand the experience before they can fix it.

Awesome! Now what?

It’s time to get all of your key stakeholders into a room and start building an assumptive map of the journey. Hold that thought for a moment; let’s talk about the stakeholders first.

Which stakeholders? You’ll want to involve key departmental leaders from across the organization; they should represent the various departments that touch the journeys you’ll be mapping – and even some (departments) that don’t.

Why? They each bring a different understanding or perspective, as well as different datapoints, to the table. Their involvement allows them to see that most journeys are impacted by multiple areas of the organization. And it (a) fosters buy-in, (b) gets them involved early on, and (c) gets everyone on the same page.

In addition, those who are going to fix it should be there to build (map) it and understand it. Stakeholder involvement means that we can ensure that each touchpoint has the appropriate individual or departmental ownership assigned to it.

Before you can bring the stakeholders into a room to begin your workshop, there are a few things you’ll need to do.

  • Outline the objectives of the mapping exercise and your intended outcomes
    • Define the scope of the assumptive map
      • Reiterate that you’re mapping the current state
      • Pinpoint the start and end points for each scenario you’ll be mapping
        • Don’t map too high level, as the map is a catalyst for transformation – if you don’t understand the steps, you can’t fix them; get to the details
        • There may be micro-journeys to map; determine if those will be mapped in your first workshop or in a future workshop
    • Determine for which personas experiences will be mapped
    • Identify which framework to be used for mapping, i.e., define your columns and rows
  • Hold a pre-meeting to give attendees background details, provide mapping guidelines, and generally prepare them for the exercise
    • Ask them to start considering the steps in the journey and to gather artifacts to bring into the workshop
Now it’s time to bring your attendees together in one room so that you can start building an assumptive map. I like starting with an assumptive map because it (a) gets the process started, (b) brings different groups together to discuss the experience, which not only helps them see the breadth and depth of organizational involvement in one customer experience but also helps to start breaking down those silos, and (c) allows you to identify gaps in organizational thinking about the journey (gaps that will be seen only after you validate with customers or have customers map the journey themselves); this alone is a valuable, eye-opening learning from this exercise.

This last point, about validating the maps, is a crucial step when building assumptive maps. The most important rule about mapping is that the map is created from the customer viewpoint and with customer input. The assumptive map is built by stakeholders but from the customer viewpoint; it’s not an internal process map. It’s a starting point to get the organization putting collective heads together to outline what is already known (based on customer feedback, customer data, the fact that you are likely a customer of your own business, etc.) about the experience, but it is not the definitive map. Only your customers can outline the definitive map. And that happens during the validation process in the instance when you start with assumptive maps.

There are many different approaches or frameworks to use for journey mapping. Find the one that works best for you – and just remember two key things: (1) always map from the customer’s perspective; and (2) be sure to capture what the customer is doing at a detailed enough level that it’s meaningful and actionable. And I don't mind capturing what the customer is thinking and feeling at the same time.

Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient. –Jeff Bezos

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Moments of Truth Day 2015 - at Legoland

Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Paul Laughlin.

Legoland, home to the legendary construction toy, never struck me as a conference venue. But it works well. Joining 200 others, I spent Moments of Truth Day 2015 (part of NCSW) here, thanks to Rant & Rave.

As you’d expect, there was time to play with Legos and to learn how playing can enhance both customer and employee experiences. All in all, it was an engaging day that was clearly popular. Apparently this was also the third annual CX Day organised by the CXPA (global association for CX professionals).

My reason for attending was to get closer to the customer insight requirements of these key customers for many insight teams. Although I write a lot about Marketing requirements, customer insight is also key to designing and delivering for CX teams.

So, what happened and what would such a day hold for you if you thought of attending next year? 

Here are the highlights I still recall:

First off, the always knowledgeable Prof Moira Clark from Henley Centre for Customer Management talked about generations and technology. Highlighting insights about the different mindsets, service expectations, and use of technology, she reviewed generational segments since 1925. Starting with the ‘Silent Generation’ (born prior to 1944), she compared the ‘Baby Boomers’ (1945-64), Generation X (1965-89) and Gen Y (1990+). It was interesting to note the, at times, conflicting service experience requirements of these segments.

Moira then went on to review both recent and coming technology developments, as boundaries between online and offline worlds blur. A resident artist usefully captured a summary in this picture of her talk:

Now, I’d be amongst the first to caution against the inappropriate use of such a broad brush segmentation (your customer behaviours and attitudes may vary greatly within these area ranges). But it is a timely reminder to not get so focused on automating your service experience in such a way that may work for Gen X or Y but could disappoint your richest customers (Baby Boomers).

Next, we had an excellent presentation from Ian Golding, an independent consultant who is passionate about customer experience. It was really good to hear him extol the importance of storytelling in communicating your customer experiences (good, bad, and downright ugly), a previous recommendation on this blog. This included a terrible experience with SAS airline and the positive example of Hector (a taxi driver in Rome).

Once again, our resident artist captured most of Ian’s key themes in a useful visual summary. I felt challenged to use personal stories more, and service tales are a great way for us insight professionals to bring to life research or analytics findings through the eyes of one customer.

Later we had time to learn about "Lego Serious Play." Patrizia Bertini got some unsuspecting volunteers to play with Lego in a reconstruction of such a workshop. It was a fascinating method, with real psychological and philosophical grounding. Themes stressed included the role of the body in memory and intelligence (especially the hands), as well as the importance of metaphor as a way of communicating, especially through creative activity and play. Do your hands know more than you do?

After initial warm-up exercises, it was interesting to see these volunteers express their customer insight challenges through Lego creations. This included visual metaphors that some were not aware they had intended to reveal. There is a real depth to this technique, and it’s akin to methods I’ve also seen work well in coaching scenarios. Why not try tackling your business problems through play?

After lunch, a MaKey MaKey workshop gave us opportunity to play with electronics, fruit, and play-doh. I kid you not. Getting (or not getting) a pair of bongos to work, through tapping a lump of play-doh and a satsuma, is quite an experience. To check out more of these creativity aids see their website.

The point of our exercise, where much went wrong – but that is the curse of the ‘live demo’ – was to design more fun ways for customers to give feedback. Once again, if you can make it play for customers, you will up participation.

Toward the end of the day, we then heard about how to gamify the employee experience. Most businesses now recognise that genuinely engaging your employees is a key to improving customer experience. So, it makes sense to think about gamification here. too. Like the success of TripAdvisor levels/badges and fun competitions to creatively tackle business issues, there appears to be real value in looking for opportunities to do this. Plus more tools to deliver this.

All in all, this was a valuable day. I’d advise other Customer Insight leaders to think of attending similar events. Build bridges with your Customer Experience Leader as increasingly you should have common cause and challenges.

Have you seen the value of play in your business? How do you use serious play to tackle business problems or to engage your customer or employees?

Paul Laughlin has over 20 years experience of leading teams to generate profit from analysing  data. Over the last 12 years he’s created, lead and improved customer insight teams across Lloyds, TSB, Halifax and Scottish Widows. He’s delivered incremental profit of over £10m pa and improved customers’ experiences.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's Not Where You Start... or Is It?

Image  courtesy of Pixabay
How do you know where to start your CX journey?

I've been asked this very question a few times in the last couple weeks.

Don't know where to start?

Just get started. You know you have to transform the customer experience with your company; don't let uncertainty paralyze you or derail you from getting started.

As you already know, without executive buy-in and commitment, your transformation efforts won't get very far. It's mission critical that you have that commitment; without it, you'll never get resources - human, capital, or other - that you'll need to execute. I've already shared my thoughts on how to get that commitment, so make sure you start there and have that.

Let's just move past that and start with the next step. Let's assume that your executives are now on board.

So, what's next?

In the spirit of "you can't transform something you don't understand," there are two things you need to understand before you can move forward: the current state of: (1) your culture and the employee experience and (2) the customer and the customer experience.

Assess the Current State: Culture and Employee Experience
The employee experience drives the customer experience. If employees aren't happy, satisfied, engaged, and passionate about what they do, your customers will be the recipients of their backlash. So we need to get a handle on a few things. Below are some tools that you can use identify where you are today in your journey. It's important to do this level set before you start changing things; in other words, don't just blindly dive in. You need a strategy.

Customer Experience Maturity Assessment: I put this tool under Culture and Employee Experience because it's a baseline on where you are with regards to a customer-centric and customer-focused culture. It's really a great way to start to understand if the customer currently has a seat at the executive table, and if not, how ready each and every employee is to listen to customers about their needs and expected outcomes going forward. It will be a read on where the organization is currently lacking (or not) and can be very eye-opening. It’s a great baseline that can be revisited and re-measured to gauge progress over time.

Employee CX Assessment: What if we asked employees what they know about customers and the customer experience? We then use the results to better frame our training efforts and to provide other (the right) tools needed to ensure employees have a clear line of sight to customers and are equipped to deliver the experience we need (and customers want) them to deliver.

Voice of the Employee: Listen to employees. Get their feedback about how well they feel they can do their jobs and what's expected of them. Do they have the right tools and resources? Do they feel like their contributions matter? Understand their levels of engagement. Identify what's missing. Conduct a culture assessment, as well. Do your employees know your purpose, vision, core values, and guiding principles? Do they live them every day?

Assess the Current State: Customers and the Customer Experience
How well do you understand your customers and the experience they are having? Do you know who your customers are? The following are some tools to get you started with understanding the current state of the customer experience.

Personas: Because we can't design the experience for each individual customer (though we can ultimately personalize when we have the data to do so), and designing for segments is too high level, we develop personas instead. Personas are fictional characters created to describe your ideal prospect or actual customer. They're derived through primary research. They represent a behavioral segment and are specific to your business, not to the industry. The descriptions include vivid narratives, images, and other items and artifacts that help companies understand the needs of the customer (contextual insights) and outline motivations, goals, behaviors, challenges, likes, dislikes, objections, and interests that drive buying (or other) decisions.

Customer Journey Map: If there’s going to be any customer-driven transformation, we need to think about the journey, not just about individual, singular touchpoints. The map is a way for you to walk in your customer's shoes, to really understand what he goes through as he tries to complete a task with the company. For the organization, it builds awareness, understanding, and empathy. The research you use to create your customer personas can also feed your journey mapping efforts. Journey maps are the ultimate tool to help connect all employees to how they contribute to - and impact - the customer experience.

Current State Analysis: Conducting a current state analysis will be important to help you understand which improvement initiatives, if any, are already underway so that you don't move forward with disparate, disjointed, and siloed efforts. This analysis might include creating a feedback map that charts the various sources of customer data, i.e., direct, indirect, attitudinal, and behavioral, also underway. This is a great time to catalog and map your operational metrics, as well, and figure out how you will link them to your improvement efforts.

Voice of the Customer: Listening to the voice of the customer through various channels is a no-brainer; if we don't listen and learn about the experience, we'll have no idea where improvements need to be made or where we're doing things well/right. If we don't listen, we'll never know anything about our customers' needs and desired outcomes. We should take a methodical approach to surveys, but listening through other channels (e.g., social media, call center data/feedback, voice of customer through employees) is an "always on" venture.

Build Your Plan
We can't just do all of the things mentioned above in a vacuum. And none of them are "one and done" tools. Each one builds on another area, and next we need to put it all together to create a transformation plan.

Governance: Governance is about both oversight and execution. Your governance structure will outline and define people, roles, and responsibilities. Who is going to ensure that there is alignment and accountability across the organization? This is typically referred to as your core program team, and they will provide oversight to ensure the organization executes on the CX vision, strategy, and transformation. This governance will also include clearly-defined rules and guidelines for how the customer experience management strategy will be executed.

Roadmap: To guide execution of your strategy, you must build a roadmap. Take everything you learn as you complete the assessments and utilize the other tools mentioned above to (a) identify action items and (b) lay out your plan for how you'll execute. Not just how, but who, when, how, how much, impact to fix, time to fix etc. It will be a detailed plan to guide next steps; it'll include a prioritization of action items and ownership for each.

Training and Education: Perhaps this is a line item in your roadmap, but I thought I'd call it out separately. All of this learning that you do about your employees and your customers can't remain on your desktop. It needs to be shared out to the organization. If employees are lacking the know-how to do their jobs or can't tell you how they impact the customer experience, there's a need for training. The customer understanding and customer experience feedback needs to be shared with those who are expected to deliver a better experience. Use what you've learned, plus my 6 tools to create a clear line of sight to customers, to frame training and orientation programs that will yield enlightened employees who know what's expected.

It seems overwhelming when you think about how to get started. But companies are in business to create and to nurture customers. If you're not doing this well, the business fails.

So, remember: it's not where you start... it's that you start! It's a journey. A long one. Rome wasn't built in a day; nor will you transform your customer experience that quickly. You'll do the items I outlined in this post. You'll then do the work. Customer expectations will evolve. You'll transform again. It's a continuous improvement process. Yea, a journey. Good luck!

Dream big. Start small. But most of all ... start. -Simon Sinek

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Great Customer Experience Isn't Enough

Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Denise Lee Yohn.

To excel in customer experience, you can't just rely on good design and solid execution. Your customer experience shouldn't just be great -- it should also be differentiated.

Customer experience has evolved just as product and service did. Time was, all you needed was a good quality product. But then, as competition and customers' expectations increased, product manufacturers realized that quality was no longer a strong enough appeal. Products needed to be different in order to stand out among all the customers' choices, to give people specific reasons to choose them, and to prompt repeat purchases.

The same thing has happened with customer service. Truly excellent service may still be hard to find, but generally speaking, friendly, knowledgeable employees have become table stakes for most companies. Retailers now look to tactics like equipping employees with digital devices and providing personal consultations as ways to differentiate their service.

Differentiation is just as important in customer experience. Because customer experience is still an emerging discipline in some industries, you may think that simply undertaking a more rigorous approach to designing and managing your customer experiences may be enough. And to be sure, customer experience fundamentals -- being more attuned to customers' need along their entire journey, integrating different elements into a cohesive and seamless experience, and consistently executing with excellence -- are all important.

But to establish your customer experience as a true competitive advantage, it must be distinctive -- it must be noticeable, valuable, and memorable to customers. Good, generic customer experiences will soon simply define the playing field. Differentiation will be how brands win.

And your customer experience can't just be different for the different's sake. Your customer experience must be developed and delivered based on unique brand attributes and values. In fact, your customer experience is the most powerful way to make your brand uniqueness real and valuable.
Consider how Westin Hotel & Resorts has aligned its customer experience with its brand positioning rooted in wellness. Westin goes beyond providing a seamless reservation and check-in process, clean and comfortable rooms, and good amenities

The Westin wellness brand experience started back in 1999 when the company introduced the luxe Heavenly Bed to help guests sleep better. This extended into relaxation and stress-reducing offerings like the Heavenly Bath and Heavenly Bath. Now there's WestinWORKOUT fitness centers, RunWESTIN group runs and running maps, and a program in which guests can borrow fitness apparel and shoes during their stay. Room service and restaurant menu options feature juices, smoothies, and other healthful offerings. And just last year, Westin introduced a Sleep Sensor Wearable-Lending program, in which guests can use digital devices to improve their sleep through sleep pattern tracking and virtual coaching.

PIRCH, the high-end appliance and plumbing retailer, provides another example of a brand-driven customer experience. PIRCH's unusual brand motto, "Live Joyfully," is baked into every aspect of the store experience. A "Barista of Joy" greets customers at the entrance to the store and offers them a complimentary coffee or infused water. In the “Sanctuary” section of the store, customers will find working shower heads, saunas, and tubs, along with an invitation to  schedule a time to test the showers -- PIRCH will even provide bathrobes. Samples of food prepared using PIRCH products flow freely throughout the kitchen area and a "Department of Yes" sign designates the customer service area.  New employees are trained to empathize with customers and to tap their own personal experiences of joy to shape their customer interactions. All this adds up to customers feeling joyful because of the genuine, thoughtful experience PIRCH deliberately designs and manages around joy.

These are just two examples of extraordinary experiences; many other companies are following suit.  Customer experience has become a critical business discipline. Now it's time for you to make it a powerful brand differentiator.

Learn more about creating distinctive customer experiences in Denise Lee Yohn’s the new book, Extraordinary Experiences: What Great Retail and Restaurant Brands Do – available now.  Blending a fresh perspective, twenty-five years of experience working with world-class brands including Sony and Frito-Lay, and a talent for inspiring audiences, Denise is a leading authority on building and positioning exceptional brands. Denise is also the author of the bestselling book What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles That Separate the Best from the Rest (Jossey-Bass).

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Empower Employees to Increase Productivity

I originally wrote today's post for Intradiem.It appeared on their blog on May 21, 2015.

When we empower employees, does that impact their productivity?

Employee empowerment is one of those phrases that often causes people to groan. Is it just another piece of employee lingo or a catch phrase? No, absolutely not. It's an important concept to both reducing employee effort and increasing employee engagement. When employees feel empowered, they are in charge of reducing their own effort and responsible for engaging with the business.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me first define empowerment. According to Google, it means, quite simply: to give (someone) the authority or power to do something.

According to, it is:

A management practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance.

Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their competence and satisfaction.

My own thoughts on it? I wrote previously:
 From the employee perspective, it's about responsibility, ownership, and accountability. It's also about trust; the employee is given the keys to the castle and trusted to do what's right for the customer and for the business. Empowerment means never having to ask, "Is it OK if I do this for my customer?" Empowerment means not having to ask for permission.
You might be starting to get a glimpse into how and why empowerment and productivity are related.

When employees are empowered, they walk around with a sense of ownership, thinking and acting like they own the business. When you own a business, you put your heart and soul into it, into making it succeed. Empowered employees don't stand on the sidelines waiting to be spoon-fed; they know what to do. They take the horse by the reins and run with the directive (aka the brand promise), being accountable for their roles in the execution of the customer experience and in the success of the business. They work together with others who are just as passionate and who share a common goal. These things combined result in efficiencies from a variety of angles.

An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success. -Stephen Covey

So, benefits of employee empowerment include:
  • Unleashing a sense of ownership and pride in their work
  • Improving the employee experience
  • Boosting employee satisfaction
  • Increasing employee loyalty
  • Encouraging collaboration and teamwork
  • Unleashing employee creativity
  • Increasing employee productivity
  • Improving work output/quality
  • And more, including cost benefits, as well
Empowered employees become "better, " more conscientious, employees overall. So it would seem that empowerment is a pretty important thing - to your employees and to the organization. How, then, do we empower our employees?
  • Define what empowerment means within your organization, to set some boundaries
  • Set expectations
  • Train, communicate, provide a framework, and then let employees do their jobs
  • Trust employees to make the right choices and the right decisions for your customers
  • Provide feedback and coaching so that employees to know if they are on the right track
  • Define what "doing right" means and what it looks like
  • Ensure employees have the knowledge, skills, and training to do what you're expecting of them
  • Define and reinforce what a great customer experience is and what it means for the customer and to the business
  • Ensure that employees have a clear line of sight to the customer
  • And ensure they know how they impact business outcomes
  • Lose the script; empowered employees don't need a script
  • Allow for common sense, but don't necessarily rely on it (since not everyone has it!)
  • Remind employees that going the extra mile doesn't have to cost a dime; customers want you to listen and act, to do what makes sense
It seems like there's a lot to do in order to empower employees, but it is important that we reduce any vagueness and that we really set appropriate expectations about what that means. They need to understand your vision and the desired outcomes. And then be allowed to execute.

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. -Theodore Roosevelt