Customer Experience News & Trends

Why a laser-sharp focus on the bottom line hurts the bottom line

Every sales and customer service pro has to keep an eye on the bottom line. But an over-emphasis on doing so may be harmful to the health of your business and customer relationships.

Research has found managers who focus too heavily on the bottom line often end up with results no one wants: employee turnover and burnout.

In a quest to run lean operations and increase sales and customer satisfaction so the bottom line stays healthy, some managers overlook the importance of keeping their staff healthy. That’s what researchers from New York University’s Stern School of Business and Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management recently found.

It’s a fine line for managers to walk: keeping an eye on the bottom line while boosting morale in their customer service and sales operations. Some managers rule with an iron fist and fail to be fair and courteous when it comes to employee relationships, the researchers said. Then morale hits bottom and turnover issues start.

Meanwhile, other managers, who are overly concerned about how well they’re liked, don’t challenge employees enough to have a positive impact.

Maintain a balance

While it’s important to have the bottom line in focus (after all, if the company’s not performing well, no one will have a job), it’s equally important to keep employee morale high, especially among those who serve customers on the front line.

Front line employees — perhaps more than others because they deal with customers every day — understand that their bosses have to make tough decisions so customers are happy, employees are motivated and the company does well.

The key for leaders in customer experience is balancing the hard-line, profit-driven decisions with concern and fairness for employees.

Here are three keys to making it work:

  • Reward behavior, not just results. Sometimes service and sales pros will do everything right for customers, and they’ll still fall short of great results — possibly because a failed attempt to save an upset customer never came to fruition. Recognize the good work, encourage them to charge forward and help them see how continuing the strong efforts will pay off next time.
  • Ask, don’t demand. Managers who are focused strictly on the bottom line tend to have a my-way-or-the-highway approach to management. That demoralizes staff. A better way to get things done — even when you want it done a specific way — is to ask leading questions to help employees decide to do it that certain way.
  • Make feedback full circle. When leaders are solely focused on improving financial results, they tend to tell employees what’s been done wrong — especially if they have customer feedback or analytics to prove their point. A better approach is to include employees in the feedback process so they’re vested in improving processes and the bottom line. A few ways: Do 360-degree performance reviews, invite front line service pros to be part of management problem solving teams or give employees regular outlets – such as an Intranet portal, old fashion suggestion box or an open-door access to you — to voice concerns and suggestions on how to improve operations, customer experiences and the bottom line.

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