In my blog post last week I discussed a book I have been reading entitled A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and its Evolution and an article from the McKinsey Quarterly entitled “Givers Take All: The Hidden Dimension of Corporate Culture.” Both the book and the article discuss a related subject that not all humans are wired to be competitive and, in fact, cooperation may be the better descriptor of human nature. The book, in particular, as well as the article somewhat suggest that cooperating with one another (reciprocity) and helping out others have been critical to our survival.
In this post, I want to discuss what some of the potential implications of this innate behavior are to improve, among other things, customer service. Let’s think about some of those implications if your organization is a “helping behavior organization,” as described in the McKinsey article.
Problem-solving is more effective.
After all, if you have a question and you know it is okay to ask someone for help, you do it. You can bounce ideas off other people. Most importantly, you can try things out and test the probability of success before the cost of failure increases even more.
Training is easier and tends to stick.
I have been involved with companies that I would describe as having generally helping behaviors. One, in particular, comes to mind. They were implementing a new and complex CRM system. While there was plenty of training provided you can never completely learn the ins and outs of a new software system. I watched a team of CSRs share their ideas on how to use the software. As a result, they became very proficient in using the system and stayed that way!
Helping behavior in work environments encourages employees to stay.
We have specific experience with one environment, Caterpillar dealerships, where at the technician level, there is in most a strong helping behavior ethic. Caterpillar technicians are technically skilled people. They thrive on learning better ways to solve tricky technical problems. There is a lot of informal and formal sharing of these ideas. It helps to make this group of people very effective at service delivery. It also is one of the reasons why the job longevity is significant among these technicians.
There are many other potential impacts that a helping behavior environment could have on a service environment. The three we have identified are improved decision-making, better training, and increased employee longevity. From our experience, all of these matter a great deal if you wish to deliver great customer service.
I would love to hear your opinion so tell us what you think in the comment section.