Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Human Capital Investment:

Profit it is said comes from investment. The greatest return on investment comes from investing in people. The secret to real estate is location, location, location, the secret to creating customer advocacy is training, training, training. Your employee, more than any other resource will influence the customer experience.

The menu, design, décor and quality of the ingredients, though very important, pale by comparison to the quality of service provided by your employees in creating customer advocacy.

A customer walks into your cafe and makes their way to the counter on a slow Sunday afternoon. Only one employee is working. The employee’s phone rings loudly with a song the customer does not recognize. The employee has a choice to make, answer the phone or quiet the phone and take care of the customer.

Without training the employee will choose to answer the phone and have a conversation while taking care of the customer. The signal that sends to the customer is the farthest thing from creating customer advocacy. The message the customer gets is that they are intruding on the employee’s conversation by having the audacity to come into the café and want to make a purchase.

Ken Blanchard’s book “Customer Mania!”, which chronicles the “do over” of YUM Brands into a customer focused organization, stresses the need for the organization to have a customer culture by inverting the traditional hierarchical pyramid of command and control. The process is all about empowering the employee that has direct contact with the customer with the ability to provide customer focused service.

The employee requires a substantial amount of investment before they achieve the goal laid out before them. This is a very difficult investment for many organizations. Organizations rationalize cost-benefit analysis saying that the employee after being thoroughly trained can leave and the vast investment in their training has a net negative return. This is the hallmark of a culture that does not have a customer focus.

Training should not be viewed as a one-time cost, the investment must be on-going. Training never ceases, reinforcement of ideas and principals is a continual process. Continual learning is the only vehicle to equip your organization’s front line with the ability to create customer advocacy!

The most important investment in your entrepreneurial career will be the investment in Human Capital!