Sarah Metcalfe is Head of Customer Service at SureFlap.
SureFlap Ltd is a Cambridge-based multi-award winning company that designs and manufactures smart pet products. These include cat flaps and pet doors, pet feeders, and microchip readers. Their products are designed to look great and are the best at what they do, and they are loved by the people that use them – SureFlap now has a Net Promoter Score of over 95% in over 20 countries around the world.
We spoke to Sarah about how she has created a happy and engaged workplace, with values based on trust and freedom within guidelines.
1. Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’m the Head of Customer Service for a pet technology company called SureFlap. I am originally from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, and have a passion for great customer service, and happiness in the workplace. I’ve been with SureFlap for 7 years, and am currently on maternity leave. When I started working at SureFlap I found that I loved coming to work every day and it made such a difference to my whole life. This started me on a path to researching and learning as much as I could about Happy Workplaces. Along the way, I’ve realised how important a happy workplace is to provide excellent customer service. I have worked hard to ensure that our reputation for customer service is carried on while we have grown.
I currently enjoy my days with my 8-month-old daughter, but am looking forward to coming back to work in September. Henry and the Happy Manifesto have been a big inspiration for how I run my department at SureFlap.
2. What’s your top tip for creating a happy and engaged workplace?
My top tip for creating a happy and engaged workplace is to trust your staff. If you hire the right people, and train them and support them, then they are the best people to do an excellent job for your company. One way we do this is to combine the 20-second rule from Shawn Achor’s Happiness Advantage, and Dom Monkhouse’s “stupid rule” idea. I like to take time to ask my staff what would make their jobs 20 seconds easier. Or what would make the customers journey 20 seconds easier. Then we fix those pieces of the journey.
3. Could you give me one example of how people responded to greater trust?
One way my staff have responded to greater trust is to really get to the route of the problem. Because we do not use standard metrics to measure performance, our staff are trusted to do the right thing for the customers on an individual basis rather than trying to get “first call resolution” or “short call times”. This means they actually solve the problem for the customer, rather than trying to get people off the phones.
I trust that my staff will do what’s best for the customer, and for the business. This means that my team are able to provide special services (which cost us nothing) and give the customer the absolute best experience with our products. My team come up with solutions which are cheaper and easier for our customers, they know they can make suggestions for improvement to our company and our products. We have created many of our special solutions, and upgraded products because of feedback directly from our customers.
4. What have you done to create a culture of trust at your organisation?
We are very lucky in that our culture of trust is built into our business. We trust our staff to do what’s right, but we also trust our customers. We encourage our customer service agents to trust our customers so there are no bureaucratic hoops to jump through to get help. This goes both ways – for customers, and the team who provide them help. Communication is also key – ensuring that our team are included in all information about the company and products – so they can always feel that they are telling the customer the truth – and that they have the answers to give customers.
5. Could you give me an example of what you’ve done to give staff greater freedom and autonomy?
One way we give our staff freedom and autonomy is that our customer service staff are not given any scripting. We trust the to say and do the right thing for the customer. This also extends to our customers. We trust that they are calling us with a genuine problem, and have no intent to “try one over” on us. This culture of trust means that we don’t make our customers or our staff jump through complicated and bureaucratic hoops to get help or to give help. It makes for excellent customer service.
Sarah will be speaking at our 2017 Happy Workplaces Conference on 14th June, a day which will be full of new case studies and practical ways that you can create your own happy and engaged workplace.
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