Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone could design a digital knowledge base that would assure consistency of employee motivation and understanding of the company’s CMR commitment? It’s still true that a high percentage of customer service inquiries come at the store level. Martha Rogers, Ph.D., a founding partner of strategy consulting firm Peppers and Rogers Group, says, “You strive for the customer-focused company, but your face to the customer is manned by individuals who just don’t ‘get it’.” Sometimes the breakdown comes from lack of motivation, which means you have to give employees the opportunity to understand what’s in it for them, and you have to build commitment to the CMR program, not just compliance. This is part of driving the vision down to the level of execution.
Sports Authority, the number-one sporting goods retailer, understands this. In 2000, it created the new position of director of training and customer service. Rob Van Craenbroeck, who holds the new director position, says, “We wanted to maximize synergies from feedback we were getting from customer service, so that [learning] could help shape our training program.” His task was to develop a training program for employees that emphasized scouting out customers’ needs. The company mined its resources to find out what the customer really wanted from the store. Management learned they had an obligation to educate consumers around the products they offered. “That’s what they wanted when they walked into our stores,” Craenbroeck says. “In other words, if someone is really interested in fitness, and thinks a treadmill will help them achieve their goals, is that the product they should be using in the first place?”[30 ]
He makes a point that sums up CMR: “It’s not about selling the most expensive product; it’s about selling the right product to the right consumer. In the end, that builds relationships, and hopefully they will be comfortable enough to recommend us to a friend. We think that’s a solid way of doing business.”
Training is part of the process, but after that you also have to give the employees the tools to serve each customer knowledgeably. Radio Shack is a good example of how to implement this philosophy. In consumer electronics there are so many products and so much change that training itself could be a full-time job. The retailer has developed a high-speed Internet tool for its stores. The high-speed retrieval-based system gives the sales associate a tool that finds the information he needs to answer customer questions. The Internet site gives any sales associate instant access to all Radio Shack product information with just a few keystrokes. Radio Shack intended to equip 95 percent of its 5,000 stores with the online tool in 2002.
Martha Rogers, Ph.D., “How Good Customer Relationships Go Bad,” INSIDE 1to1, January 5, 2002, p. 2.
[30 ]Jo Bennett, “Sports Authority Hits a Home Run with Technology and Training,” 1to1 Magazine, January/February 2002, p. 16.
Ibid., p. 19.
Ibid., pp. 2–3.