This brings us to Scenario #2.
In Part One, we described front line staff personnel who were essentially not able to transform a negative customer judgment into a positive experience when they did not have enough authority or information to help create a better outcome. But they did discover peer resources were an advantage because peers modeled alternative ways to respond to difficult customers and they had access to much more information.
So what happens when a customer center is created where frontline personnel are available to answer a wide range of questions and solve a multitude of different kinds of problems?
Certainly the potential is there for improved consistency in response to customer questions, greater accountability and transparency and a customer friendly portal to access resources and information. This is all possible with a centrally supervised, well managed unit that focuses on cross training.
But the most significant challenge involves breaking down department silos and getting people to share information. Cross training may seem like a logical solution, but in reality it poses a real threat to personnel who have invested in a work identity that is built on what they do and what they know.
And this is why Scenario 1 presents a real link to Scenario 2.
In order for frontline personnel to perceive a benefit to cross training, they must first acknowledge the pitfalls of customer service when delivered from silos and experience the advantages of collaborative problem solving. Role play and facilitated discussions about the way the organization works offers opportunities for individuals to recognize shared challenges and build group identity.
In this current client project, we will follow the same path as in Scenario 1 but will also explore what they perceive as challenges to the transition to the customer center. We will map the formal and informal ways things get done now and what it will look like in the new design, but most of all I will capitalize on their innate ability to articulate the value of peer exchange when problem solving. This is not something they need to be told, but rather something they must experience in order to internalize and participate in the challenge.
HR Strategies provide ways to improve people systems through improved communication, increased clarity about job roles and responsibilities and recognition for meaningful contributions through the adversity and challenges faced in the workplace.