Rewarding Service or Sales?

Should employees be rewarded for delivering the experience that the customer wants, or the outcome that their employer needs?

Having experienced two different car showrooms in 48 hours, it made me wonder why car dealers are so bad at customer service. Personally I find buying a car a stressful rather than enjoyable experience. I think that comes down to a lack of trust, and an instinct that the car dealer pretends to be interested in your best interests but actually is focused on maximising the sale, and therefore commission. It’s also true in other markets such as estate agents, IFAs (pre-recent regulation) and mobile phone shops spring to mind. In the latter case the stand out exception is Carphonewarehouse who now pay their staff not on sales, but on customer feedback.

With the growth in focus on customer service through understanding their needs and delivering an exceptional experience, is the time now right to re-evaluate how employees are incentivised? Surely paying sales commission is purely internally focused (e.g. what is the best outcome for the company – increased profit, longer contract, additional sales etc), where as if the organisation was truly customer focused it would pay on how the customer has assessed their experience. If they have received a good experience they will provide high scoring evaluation against whichever measure the supplier chooses.

Getting that single measure right is the trick here, whether it is recommendation in the form of NPS, customer effort or value for money the overall objective will be to refocus employees behaviour onto a long-term view (i.e. what is good for the customer) rather than the short-term (i.e. what is directly good for the organisation). Ultimately this will deliver the financial bottom line results that companies are judged upon.

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