Friday, January 22, 2016

Training the CULTURE in your workplace. Why personal development matters as much as professional development.


Corporations spend billions each year training their people to do the job they were hired to do. This is obviously necessary, but are they missing the biggest point? With such a heavy focus on job training and process training, are we missing culture training? We all know how "one bad apple" can spoil the whole basket, and the same is true in a company. Has professional development taken too high a place at the expense of personal development?
We place so much emphasis on the "almighty process" that we practically give permission for some employees to perform with a bad attitude. In that case, (in my mind) no matter how good at the task the employee is, he is doing his job poorly. It was true in my ten years in mortgage banking. The processors and underwriters, who were tough, sharp, sticklers for regulations, and methodical but who had the great "I want to help you make this work" attitude were always the most productive and closed the highest volume. The L.O. who behaved like a prima donna because he had a good month last month, but turned in incomplete files, was rude to his customers, and bad with his follow-up never seemed to get referral business, and often jumped from one company to the next. He was mercurial in his production. But the guy who did his job thoroughly, and who made good friends from his customers, regardless of their credit score or the size of the home they were buying...that guy went far in the business.
In IT it is similar. It is a tech driven world we live in and more and more the IT providers out there -whether in house or outsourced- know how vital they, and the service they provide, are to the end user. They may never say it, but they communicate "Oh yeah...imagine your life if I don't fix this for you, or develop this webpage, or upload this patch..." every time they are contacted. Everyone from a CSR to an engineer can relay the same message if they aren't trained on culture.  
What is the culture of customer service in your company? Most employees from upper management down to the maintenance staff can recite the corporate mission statement. Most of them know the "roles and goals." But can they define the proper culture of the business? Can you? Have you spent countless hours training and emphasizing and reinforcing the "steps to the process" and the mission statement  but never defined how you want the culture of your company to look? Have you clearly outlined the 1 year, 5 year 10 year goals etc, and ignored the basics of "I want my people known for treating a customer like this..."  Have you considered culture training? Should you?
One example in closing. I have Sprint wireless service. I have had them for 5 years. when I moved to Lynchburg, I switched to Verizon briefly (leaving my Sprint account open because it was only one month from end of contract) because Sprint did not have LTE service here at the time. The Verizon experience was the most horrible example of customer service I have ever seen. They were terrible. They were deceptive and shady and when I called to ask for help they were arrogant and rude. You know what I did? I went back to Sprint! Would you like to know why? Because Sprint's culture of customer service was OUTSTANDING! I have never...not once since starting with them in May 2011, had a bad experience with them, either on the phone or in a store. They are kind, they are patient, they are polite, they LISTEN, they don't tell me I'm not having a problem when I called because I AM! I went back to them -even though I knew I was getting slower service- because I want to be treated decently. Not special treatment, not royal treatment...just decent treatment.  They got LTE service here about two months ago so in the end I won. But even without it, I was happier where I was being respected and treated kindly. 
Verizon's system was better. Their beloved, "almighty process" was faster and bigger. But they were gigantic jerks and I'd rather have slow data speeds with a kind, helpful support staff. That's life. We do business with those we like. I had a boss once who said "You make friends out of your customers, not customers from your friends." and he was right. Management MUST emphasize culture as much or more than they do mission. The number one goal must be delivering GREAT customer service, regardless of the outcome of the process. Some things can't be fixed. Some software just won't work with your network. Some borrowers just weren't going to qualify for that loan. But the biggest question that needs to be answered is "Would you do business with them again and would you want your family doing business with them?" and if it's not answered positively...your process sucks and you are Verizon. 

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