Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Importance of Middle Management

Most small businesses know when to bend the rules to satisfy customers.  They know when something doesn't work and can quickly fix it.  Bigger companies rely on their middle management to carry out company policies and resolve customer disputes before they involve the executive levels.  Executives can focus on running their business and their subordinates can manage problematic situations before they get out of hand, and before the customer files a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

The colossally-sized businesses are in a more difficult position.  The executives are far removed from consumers and rely on multiple levels of customer service to resolve disputes.  Often, middle management is asked to carry out the company policies without exception.  This can create problems when customer service agents are reading their scripts and their managers are forbidden from reasoning through a situation.  Sometimes, when managers bend the rules to protect the company, they are disciplined.  This is often because the uppermost tier of managers wants to avoid any problems, such as lawsuits and shrink, by not allowing their employees to do anything outside their scripted responsibilities.

This creates an impossible situation for customers whose problems are not answered by the scripts.  They fall through the cracks of customer service. This is when middle management is essential. They have to know when and when not to take extra steps to resolve a dispute. It does no good to have a manager that must follow the same script as his or her subordinates. It is a redundant step in dispute resolution that further frustrates customers, making it more difficult to satisfy them.

At the very least, a customer service manager should have extra knowledge and better explanations for the policies in customer service scripts. It is an important business investment to have management that is allowed to reason through disputes and be able to recognize when resolutions don't fit tightly within company policies.  They can save business owners many unnecessary headaches.

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