Human Resources professionals play pivotal role in developing employees’ competencies, but it truly is at the discretion of the individual learner to apply what he/she had learned. Customer service training is pivotal within any industry, but it is an even more essential tool in business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. Front line employees are the face of the organization and profit margins depend heavily on the quality of service given to consumers. Most recently, the B2C industries have been thrust into the forefront of re-writing history by changing the landscape of minimum wage and compensation practices.
According to a research study conducted by the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United titled, “High Road 2.0: A National Study of Human Resource Practices, Turnover, and Customer Service in the Restaurant Industry”, the most important human resource practices that signiﬁcantly reduce turnover and lengthen job tenure are high relative wages, job security, longer work hours, more discretion at work, and policies for promotion from within. Investments in training are also important as well. http://rocunited.org/a-national-study-of-human-resource-practices-turnov…
The appetizer-Research it!
Undoubtedly those working in the executive suite have strong influence on daily operations impacting the quality of customer service and profit margins. However, B2C Human Resources (HR) representatives can be just as influential in applying the actual workforce practices that impact the profit margin too. I recommend that B2C Human Resources representatives make it a routine habit of assessing the interaction between customers and employees alike. A standardized scorecard that measure the efficiency and the quality of its customer service is helpful with identifying any gaps in performance and profit. The lack of time placed into developing and applying performance measurement tools leaves the company vulnerable to losing money on the both sides of the counter.
Entrée- Preserve the product
If the front line employees who are hired to sell a product don’t even care about the product, then the company becomes a sinking ship. B2C HR representatives should implement a systematic routine quality assurance process to quickly and routinely identify poor performers, especially when their behavior is negatively impacting the integrity of the products. The process can be as simple as someone randomly inspecting the product before it reaches the consumer.
The dessert menu- Train, compensate or terminate?
The debate on hourly wages is so intense right now in America that I’m actually surprised that paying a minimum wage of $15/hr isn’t a common practice by now. The issue is obviously still being debated, proposed, opposed, protested and undecided by politicians, unions, employees, and even amongst the general public nationwide. A wage increase may mean an increase in prices for the customer to pay. Are consumers willing to pay approximately ten dollars for a sandwich, not including the side order and drink? Are consumers willing to pay for the tools that improve their customer service experience?
I’m certainly not suggesting that low wages are an excuse for employees to provide customers with low quality service. However, to help minimize front line disgruntled employees, B2C HR representatives should be proactive in assessing the hiring, training, and performance process. For instance, some B2C employees may be upset that their hours are being reduced without prior notice from management.
According the ROC study, employer investments in training are low across the board with employees typically only receiving about one week of initial training in the fast food and fine dining arena when they are hired. As a result, front line employees become disgruntled and detached from their respective role within the organization. B2C HR should ensure that the company’s policies are transparent during the hiring process.
- Employers have the responsibility of giving potential employees the courtesy of understanding what type of work schedule to expect
- Employee orientation and training sessions should re-emphasize the company’s operational and customer service models
- Feedback from new hires can help improve training modules and expand policies that are supportive of employees’ retention and growth
During this modern age of technology there are various types of blended training platforms that HR can perform to help maintain a high quality of customer service among their B2C employees. I don’t want to believe that people pursue jobs with the hope of being under performers. I want to believe that applicants seeking B2C positions have well intentions to provide good customer service to consumers. HR professionals within B2C entities have the ability and sometimes the grueling responsibility of developing competencies that produce the best product for the consumers.