The other day I saw an interview with Magic Johnson. Magic was talking about his coach, Pat Riley. He said that Riley was a great coach because he provided honest feedback. Riley yelled at Magic just like everyone else. He corrected his mistakes and provided honest analysis and feedback.
Now, I’m not insinuating that Magic Johnson or the Los Angeles Lakers were successful only because feedback was given. (Skill had quite a bit to do with it). But what I am suggesting is that a constant stream of objective feedback helps any organization—auto shop or NBA team—improve.
If you’re an owner or a manager you have to give feedback to your employees. It is a fact of running a business. If an employee is struggling to treat customers with respect, you need to give feedback. If an employee is failing to book appointments over the phone, you need to give feedback. If an employee is doing a shoddy job, you need to give feedback. If you’re noticing a pattern of laziness or slacking, you need to give feedback.
But here’s the big question: how do you give feedback?
We’re going to provide you with some tips and some real-life examples of how businesses are putting these tips into practice.
Tips for Provide Feedback
1. Provide analysis—not opinion. Opinions can make an employee defensive. Factual analysis is much better than opinion. But here’s the problem: analysis is a lot more difficult to give than an opinion. Why? Because analysis requires standards. It requires previously agreed upon goals and benchmarks. Opinions don’t. For example, if an employee is doing a shoddy job, it is very easy to say ‘’you are doing a bad job.” It is harder to say “You know that we expect this job gets done in 25 minutes. You consistently take around 25 minutes.”
Analysis takes the discussion from “personal” to “factual.”
One of the things tools like LogMyCalls allows you to do is listen to employee customer interactions and then provide objective feedback on those interactions. Customer calls are recorded. Then you can log in and simply listen to the calls and leave feedback about your employee’s phone performance. Did they answer the phone in a cheerful way? Did they make an appointment? These are not subjective opinions, they are questions based in objective analysis.
Additionally, it allows you to set up scorecards and actually grade your employees’ performance on the phone. These scorecards are objective, meaning that analysis, not opinions, are provided.
2. Be Specific – Feedback cannot be general or unfocused. Feedback is effective when—and only when—it is specific.
It is much more effective to say ‘’yesterday I noticed you took a very long lunch, in fact, I’ve noticed that you’ve taken a long lunch every day this week,” than it is to say ‘’you haven’t worked very hard this week.”
It is very effective to say “yesterday I logged in and listened to a call you answered around noon. I noticed that you didn’t ask her to come in to the shop.” However, if you said, ”you don’t do a good job on the phone,” that would be too general and wouldn’t help the employee improve.
When we help companies set up their scorecards we always encourage them to make the grading criteria as specific as possible. For example:
- Did the employee use his/her name when answering the phone?
- Did the employee ask for the customer’s name?
- Did the employee ask an open-ended question to the caller?
- Did the employee ask the caller directly to make an appointment?
Notice that each of these criteria is very specific. There is no way they could be misinterpreted or confused. The employee either did these things or they didn’t. This is specific, fact-based analysis rather than general opinion.
3. Focus on the Positive – People respond to compliments better than anything else. When was the last time you praised an employee? When was the last time you made them feel like they did a great job? (Most managers can’t remember the last time).
Focusing on the positive will build goodwill with your employees and, in most cases, will get them to work harder.
One of our clients has a reward system built in to their call monitoring and call scoring system. When employees score over 80% on a scorecard for a week they get a giftcard, or the boss buys pizza for the employees. (Our data shows that you are 3 times more likely to get an appointment when a call score is over 80%). You want to incentivize and encourage excellent performance.
Remember, just because you are providing feedback doesn’t mean that feedback has to be negative.
4. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. – Why do your employees consistently sound rushed and rude when they’re on the phone with customers? Why are they making mistakes? Before you blow up at them or criticize them, you should think about things from their perspective. Maybe you are understaffed. Maybe you are understaffed at certain times of the day and a simply adjustment of lunch breaks would fix the problem.
Another of our clients in the collision world uses LogMyCalls to help them with staffing. It shows them the ‘Peak Call Times’ during the day. They found that their calls spiked significantly between 11am and noon. Prior to this tool was the hour when many employees were taking breaks and going to lunch. Now, the owner leaves his staff in the business until the afternoon when calls slow down.
Here’s the point: you have provide consistent feedback that is factual and honest. If you don’t, nothing will improve. Ever.