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Empowerment: The Backbone of Great Service

Empowerment is critical to any organization that wants to be a Service Leader. It is the most difficult skill to teach and get employees to use.

Empowerment means all employees have to make fast decisions on the spot in favor of the customer. The fear is that an employee may give away the store. The single goal of every company should be to have over happy customers.

In Bolivia, I sent a lot of products via Federal Express to Marwan El Tine, VP of Service Quality Institute Bolivia.

After 6 weeks, he still does not have the product. I addressed it to him at his hotel with his Suite number. No one seems to understand he is a guest and not the owner of the hotel. I have revised letters and custom papers and he still does not have the product. No empowerment. NO cost to anyone to solve the problem.

When an employee does not immediately solve the problem in favor of the customer, the costs and damages increase. Most empowered decisions require no money or cost less than $25.

  1. When it gets moved up the chain of command, your costs double.
  2. Unless you have a monopoly, you may lose the customer.
  3. With social media, negative comments reach thousands. Negative reviews last for years.
  4. Customers like my wife will never complain but she will never go back. Very costly.

The percentage of consumers taking action to settle a score against a company through measures such as pestering, or public shaming in person or online has tripled to 9% from 3% in 2020, according to a study by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting.

Many organizations are afraid the customer is lying and the employees are rather stupid so they will be taken advantage of. Doesn’t this sound really dumb?

What would happen if employees and the company valued the customer and everyone was able to make an empowered decision in favor of the customer? This is what Amazon, Costco and do. I have never had an employee at Amazon say no. I have never had anyone at Amazon have to ask a supervisor for permission. Amazon grew sales last year $44.2 billion. The AWS division grew sales by 29% to $80.1 billion with an operating income of $22.8 billion. Too much money for most organizations, so no one really copies Amazon.

At Costco, they have a simple policy that employees all understand. They have a very strong money-back guarantee. Net sales in fiscal 2022 were $222.7 billion, an increase of 16%. Your crazy to not buy what you need at Costco because they stand behind their products. If an employee did not honor their money-back guarantee, they would be in trouble. Costco has 304,000 employees. has not announced its fiscal year sales yet. Fiscal Quarter 3 2022 Highlights: Net sales of $2.53 billion improved 14.5 percent year over year. If you have a problem with an order or if your pet doesn’t like the pet food they immediately refund your money and tell you to give the remaining pet food away.

All employees need to be trained on empowerment. The most important people are those on the front line who have 99% of your customer interactions. For the last 40 years, they are the least paid, least trained and least valued.

Employees know they will be fired if they make an empowered decision. Only through training, recognition and strong empowerment policies will you be able to get employees to make fast, empowered decisions. CEOs have to drive and support empowerment. When they hear about employees making empowered decisions, management needs to celebrate it.

I have a book, Empowerment: A Way of Life, you can buy for $19.95 plus shipping on our website here. Download is only $9.99. You can also buy on Amazon here.

If you want to train your staff using our two-session program of 2-3 hours each, Empowerment A Way of Life, the link is here. Participant kits vary from $20 to $9 for employees. We have a special introductory offer for the facilitator kit with the leader guide and both videos and 25 participant kits for $1,499 and free shipping worldwide. Check it out here.  Available in English, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. It is also available online for $97 to $19 a person.