Talent management refers to the set of HR-driven management practices that underpin recruitment/hiring, performance management, employee development, succession planning, and compensation. Talent management can be an organization’s secret weapon when it comes to customer service excellence.
Why? Because it helps to develop individual and organizational competence, aligns your workforce and builds your work culture.
Here’s a look at how it does that.
Delivering top-notch customer service requires skill. Your employees will need strong interpersonal and communication skills. But they’ll likely also need some technical skills related to the products or services you deliver.
And like most things, those skills can’t remain static. Your staff will continually need to expand and deepen their skills to help your business remain competitive. That’s where your talent management programs can help.
Foundational to talent management is the performance management cycle. While many people think this is limited to an annual performance appraisal given to each employee by their manager, it really should be an ongoing process of setting expectations, giving feedback and coaching and supporting employee development.
Your talent management programs should ensure that employees:
- know what knowledge and skills are important for their jobs
- get regular feedback on their performance
- get coaching to help them improve
- have development opportunities to help them grow
This way, your talent management programs will help develop individual and therefore organizational competence.
Aligning Your Workforce
One of the keys to delivering excellent customer support is an aligned workforce. Whether it’s marshalling everyone to work to achieve targets for customer satisfaction ratings, trying to reduce product defects or returns, or fulfilling customer orders more quickly, every employee, regardless of their function, can have a part to play in achieving your organizational goals.
Your talent management programs can help you align your workforce by communicating the organization’s high-level goals related to customer service. Then, challenge every employee, in every part of the organization, to set individual goals that in some way contribute to the achievement of organizational goals.
Regular review and communication of the status and progress on goals, up and down the reporting chain, help keep everyone accountable. And if you need to adjust the organization’s direction or targets, ongoing performance management that includes a regular review of employee goals helps to keep everyone aligned.
If you further tie rewards and compensation to employees’ performance ratings, particularly for goals, you further help to align your workforce and make employees accountable for their work.
Building Your Culture
To truly deliver excellent customer service, you need an organizational culture that is focused on the customer.
Your talent management programs can help you build this culture by cultivating core competencies related to customer service in each and every one of your employees.
Start by defining the cultural values that embody excellence in customer service for you as competencies. They may include things like: responsiveness, market/industry knowledge, communication, initiative or even innovation. However you define excellent customer service, capture that in core competencies.
Then you can include those core competencies in things like job description, job requisitions, performance appraisal forms, 360 degree evaluations, leadership development programs, compensation/reward programs, etc.
That way, you recruit and hire people who already have the customer competencies you need, continually cultivate these values/competencies in your entire workforce, promote people who are strong in these areas, and reward desired behaviors “” continually strengthening your culture and values.
Better talent management means better results
The whole purpose of your talent management programs is to make the most of your most strategic asset – your workforce. Done well, they can help you align and develop your workforce, strengthen your organizational culture, engage your employees, and drive high performance. Leverage this powerful tool to help you deliver excellent customer service that sets you apart from the competition.
About the Author
Sean Conrad writes about talent management best practices, including ways to develop customer focus, for Halogen’s Exploring talent management blog as well as a variety of industry publications. He’s a Certified Human Capital Strategist who helps Halogen Software‘s customers improve the way they manage their workforces.