Our Top Tips for Improving Low-Performing Locations
So you’re collecting regular customer feedback and you’re measuring NPS scores across your various branches and locations (nice work), but low-performing branches are getting you down.
You’re not alone. Even with high performing companies there is an average NPS gap of 57 points between the highest and lowest performing locations (Based on Study of AskNicely customers, AskNicely Benchmark Study 2020). That means even for companies that are strong in customer experience, there is a huge opportunity to improve the performance of their bottom few.
There could be many reasons for low scores; low employee engagement, overworked teams, communication confusion. But speculating about it won’t lead to improvements. You need proven methods of identifying AND solving these issues in order to differentiate through customer experience.
How? Here are our top tips to get individuals, teams and locations who are dragging you down up to the top of the NPS leaderboard.
Level the Playing Field
For every branch, team and individual to have an equal chance of success, you need to start with a level playing field. Everyone should have a clear idea of what the goal is and how to get there. Without this clear vision and practical knowledge, each employee could be working towards different priorities and standards which creates a disparity from the get-go. The most effective way to get everyone on the same page, and give everyone an equal chance, is to set and coach to clear, consistent service standards. These standards should be the same across various branches and locations to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
High performers aren’t inherently better than low performers, they just have a clearer idea of what they need to do, how they need to do it and why it’s important. So step one? Identify who you low performers are, and ask them “can you tell me our service standards” – if they can’t answer, it’s your job as a manager to make sure they can.
Build a Blueprint for Success by Tracking Trends
To solve specific problems, you need specific solutions. At this stage, you’re already collecting real-time feedback. Now it’s time to use it effectively. Tracking trends helps you uncover the WHY, revealing the secrets to success, and uncovering the roots of issues so you can solve them head on. What do all of your highest performing locations have in common? You may find that almost every delighter customer says they love how everyone communicates so clearly what service is going to be done. If you find the blueprint to success from looking at your top performers, you can then start to duplicate that across every location.
Equally the trends might reveal that timeliness is the root cause of negative feedback, so you can coach your employee on specific ways to improve the speed of service. Without these trends, you’re left guessing about why customers are feeling dissatisfied and your team has no direction on how they can improve.
Communicate Effectively to Solve Issues
There’s (usually) a good reason for poor performance. Perhaps it’s a lack of motivation, a confusion around processes, stress outside of work or a feeling of being undervalued and unappreciated. Whatever it is, you won’t know (or be able to fix it) if you don’t communicate with your teams effectively. Instead of expressing frustration towards your low performers, offer a listening ear. It may seem like the most simple thing, yet it’s one of the most under practiced habits by service businesses around the globe.
Research from UKG found that 86% of employees, or four in five, feel colleagues at their organization are not heard fairly or equally – with 47% of teams claiming underrepresented voices are totally undervalued by their leaders.
Check in regularly with your people and ask them how they’re doing. Ask them what they’ve been struggling with and what would make them feel more empowered in their work. This can’t be a one-off conversation, and employees need to have a way to continuously communicate with their higher-ups, offer feedback and stay connected. By doing so, you’ll come to understand the reasons for low performance and how to help. It’s a proven method, as employees who feel heard are 4.6x more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.
Use (Friendly) Competition to Create Unification
The customer experience is a team effort. Sometimes, the best way to unite a team is with a friendly sense of competition. You can use a live NPS leaderboard to motivate teams to work together and improve together. Encourage team members to celebrate each other’s big wins, and make sure you get in on the action and shoutout great work when you see it. Perhaps you have a monthly prize for the highest performing teams at the end of each month, or some kind of team celebration. Not only does it motivate folks and create a sense of engagement, but it also unites people. Top performing individuals can offer mentorship to lower performers and employees can learn from one-another, not just their managers.
Low-performers are not a lost cause. The knee-jerk approach might be to give one-off pep talks or even let staff go. But that doesn’t solve underlying issues of your company culture. It only sweeps them under the rug and offers a temporary fix before another employee starts underperforming. To help you low performers climb the NPS leaderboard, set and coach to clear service standards, turn to trends in your feedback, listen to your employees and have a bit of fun with team competition. You’ll be surprised to see how far your “low performers” can go.