How an Accountability Philosophy will produce exceptional business results
There are many articles, publications and books written on teamwork. Everyone wants the same goal: to produce exceptional business results, exceed customer expectations while creating and maintaining a highly motivated and engaged workforce.
We know how a cohesive team can ensure business success. Customers can easily sense if a team is not on the same page. I can recall many times as a consumer when the team is not cohesive. Customer service policies are not consistent, service is poor, employees’ cannot provide an answer to a problem.
I remember distinctly, having a challenge with a piece of furniture that I had ordered and delivered. Once the product was delivered at my home, it was damaged. I didn’t recall the delivery staff damaging the product when they placed it in my home. I asked the delivery staff who to contact to report the defect. They told me it was not their responsibility and provided me with a number to contact customer service. Once they left, I contacted customer service and was told that the delivery drivers must have been at fault for damaging the product because the product was not damaged when it left the store. I was frustrated, why? Because no one took accountability for the situation. Rather than fix the situation, everyone was blaming someone else.
Not one single employee offered to fix the problem. The end result was a frustrated consumer, and poor team dynamics between customer service and the transportation departments.
I have facilitated many workshops on the team dynamic. The one item I stress the most is ACCOUNTABILITY. To any customer, internal or external, they do not care whose responsibility it is. They want action, results and a favourable experience.
Imagine if the CEO asks why a particular important report was late and your response was, “my team did not produce it on time”. Would that be an acceptable answer? Absolutely not! Good customer service and good team management requires employees to take accountability for their actions and support the actions of their co-workers. How do you incorporate an accountability driven culture?
1) Make employees accountable for their actions. Allow them to make mistakes and take ownership of them. If employees have more leeway to make mistakes and correct them, they have a great sense of accountability and will not take the easy way out by blaming another individual, department or even the consumer!
2) Encourage employees to address the root cause of major customer service or process related problems. Brainstorm with them; include them in the process of identifying how things could be better. Think outside the box. By encouraging team members to participate collaboratively, they are solving business problems together – not individually and working towards a common goal.
What does this mean to business? Think back to the experience above. If employees had an accountability driven philosophy, what would their response have likely been? The delivery driver, likely would have said, “I am very sorry about the damage, please let me contact customer service with you and we can take action to get this fixed for you right away.”
Customer service would make necessary arrangements to investigate the damage and fix it promptly. What would the result this new experience be for me?
A very happy customer and we all know what a very happy customer means to business.