We need to know how good our service is in the eyes of customers relative to competition. Customer service is not just pleasing the customers on the very moment of their transaction in the service station, but it should be consistent based on the employees’ behavior and as well as how we fair with competition – Giving prompt and efficient service, Receiving customers in a friendly and welcoming manner, Evaluating customers needs and satisfying them, Achieving personal standards and Taking the initiative to do more – the extra mile or GREAT.
In the various oil and gas companies I have been employed with, customer service should be deemed excellent. And this is achieved through behavioral change and thinking from top (management) to bottom (staff and service station employees). The market environment shapes the strategic approach, but the basic approach is essentially engraved in the execution process. marketing environments include government intervention such as price regulation through subsidies, industry evolution from full-serve to self-service through automation, and company dynamics such as franchising and dealerships.
Successful customer service is relative and dynamic. We all know very well the purpose of such endeavor is to achieve repeat business, customer loyalty, increased profits, company reputation and happier management and employees. It is relative because the services rendered is compared with nearby competition and is dynamic since customer needs changes overtime. Thus, excellent customer service evolves and strategies are updated to meet the service station’s motorists demands and expectations. The vision is to be the Brand of Choice.
To be the Brand of Choice in every community service stations are operating in, employee motivation and teamwork should be the formula for a successful customer service program in any given market environment. Staff motivation is behavioral whilst teamwork is a mechanism of support and encouragement to fuel motivation amongst employees and management. Thus, team approach should be the strategy in executing any customer service program. Just like when we introduced customer service in the beginning of this writing, we have to be GREAT.
Roles and Team Approach
In a service station, the organization typically consists of the Station Manager, Shift Supervisors or Team Leaders, Cashiers and the Customer Service Attendants, at least for the forecourt section of the service station. If the service station has a convenient store, the organization will add-up to include the Store Cashiers and Store Service Attendants, and in a full-blown service station that offers vehicle service and maintenance, the organization should have additional Service Cashiers, Mechanics and other service personnel. A full-blown service station can have at least 40 employees in its payroll roster.
Essentially, the role of the Management is to cascade the customer service program timely and effectively. That is, each role and responsibility is spelled out clearly in every service station. It is important that all employees in the service station understand the purpose, strategy and tactical process of the program. Therefore, imperative all employees acknowledge the customer service program in writing by heart and by mind. Needless to say, their employment with the company is at stake and at-will whilst the tactical execution of the program is successfully performed.
Once the customer service program is cascaded, the roles of the Station Manager and the Shift Supervisors play the conduit in executing the program effectively and seamlessly. Performance metrices through rating sheets are fulfilled periodically by the Station Manager – daily forms, weekly forms and monthly forms as directed by Management. Thus, a priority to measure the performance of the service station staff and the effectiveness of the program. The Shift Supervisor, at this level, the knowledge and skills in coaching come into play. Coaching includes working with the service station staff/employees in his/her shift and observing the correct and incorrect behavior, making sure lots of praises and recognition for correct actions were performed. Poor performance on the other hand, rectification must be obliged immediately, right there and then – take the staff member aside, talk through the incorrect action, ask the staff member what he should have done and ensure its not a training issue. When and if he/she knows what should be done, to check and encourage improve performance.
The Customer Service Attendants, the from line to customers and motorists, are key to the majority of the tactical processes’ successes. Each of them have to be informed on the strategic intent and effective tactical execution of the program. They have to perform as a team however, win the program’s competition individually. We’ll see how this contrasting feature of the customer service program is actually strategized.
Traditionally, a third party – that is an outsider of the service station and the oil company, is contracted to rate the service station employees covertly. They are popularly know as the Mystery Motorist and Mystery Shoppers for the forecourt section and the convenience store respectively. The standard rating form is issued and trainings are given prior to the contractors deployment to rate the service stations services covertly – the forecourt section and the convenience store at least monthly. Thereafter, the rating forms are submitted, collated and tabulated monthly and the overall performance of the oil company’s service station network is computed on a quarterly basis. The highest garnering rating score of the service station is finally announced and the corresponding retailer/dealer/franchisee is awarded along with his Station Manager. As of today, many oil companies are still adopting the Mystery Motorist as their customer service strategy. Unfortunately, this kind of strategy is not that effective anymore as far as where I was employed with.
An alternative comes to light, the Team-Employee Connect or TEC. This strategy was introduced way back in 2003 In Caltex/Chevron Corporation then I was a Retail Business Consultant (RBC) assigned in the Metro Manila Metro-complex in the Philippines. And as RBC of the oil company, cascading in the retail network of service station assigned to me was performed and ensured every service station employee including the Owner/Dealer/Franchisee and his/her Station Manager(s) understood and acknowledged in heart and in mind. Then, we believed empowering and incentivizing the SCA significantly will improve the strategic intent more effectively. Since the SCA is the frontline to customers and motorists, the tactical execution of the program will be GREAT.
The team monitoring system of the TEC philosophy is to have a consistent excellent level of service to customers; to monitor the performance of the employees in terms of customer services, housekeeping and compliance to company policies; to recognize deserving employees and counsel non-performing employees; to improve and maintain housekeeping of the service station; to foster performance competition among employees in the service station; and use the system as a tool in gauging performance of an employee. The scope of TEC is to coach, measure and monitor, and recognize the tactical execution of customer service of the CSA, Merchandisers and Cashiers in the forecourt section and the convenience.
Rating Process for the Forecourt
- Every station needs one Team Leader every shift.
- The function of a Team Leader is to rate every member of his Team based on services and compliance. At least every member should have one rating per week Please refer to the rating sheet per employee
- Retailer rates every Team at least once a week based on services and compliance using the same rating tool of the team leader and rates the team on housekeeping at least once a month per team using the External Site Audit form.
- Every month a retailer tallies his/her ratings and determines the Team winner. Please take note that the rating of the retailer solely determines the winning team.
- To determine the best employee, whoever garnered the highest score from the winning team is the best employee of the month.
- To determine the most improved employee, whoever gets the highest improved rating based on the employee’s average monthly rating against the current month rating gets that award.
- Every month retailer post in a visible place winner for the following categories:
- Team overall champion for Forecourt
- Best forecourt attendant
- Best Team Captain for Forecourt
- Most Improve forecourt attendant.
Rating Process for Star Mart
- For Star Mart there should be three (3) teams. One team per shift.
- Unlike in the forecourt there is no need to appoint a team leader in the Star Mart
- Retailer will be the one to rate the Star Mart teams based on customer service, compliance and housekeeping.
- Customer service and compliance rating should be at least once a week or 4X a month (please refer to the rating tool for compliance and customer service). Housekeeping/Merchandising should be done once a month per team (we will use the Caltex Site Floor Walk Audit for Star Mart.
- Every month a retailer tallies his/her ratings and determines the Team winner.
- Every month retailer post in a visible place winner for the following categories
- Team overall champion for Star Mart
- Best Team in Customer Service
- Best Team in Housekeeping and Merchandising
Rules of the Competition
- The best employee should come from the winning team. If an employee garnered the best rating score but his/her team is not the winner, he/she will not be the best employee.
- Whoever is the best team automatically is the best team leader
- In rating customer service of a team, the retailer can opt to assign this to his/her friends, relatives or any person not known by the retailer’s staff.
- Housekeeping rating should be done at least once a month using the Caltex’ External Site Audit Form
- The posting of the winners should be placed in a very visible place and a cork board of sort should be provided for this.
- Every team leader should be trained to “train to connect” and “team coach.