You overhear an employee say to a customer, “I’ll have to check with my manager.” Quick… what’s the word-of-mouth going to be about this business? Too early to tell? We know too little to decide? Perhaps. I can assure you that its at least one step removed from “When I had a problem they took care of me.”

And no matter how many ads you run proclaiming the value of your customer service, people’s real experiences keep running into “That’s not how we do it,” or “I’ll have to check.”

Neither is a strong reaffirmation of your advertising.

According to Rich Dad, Poor Dad’s Robert Kiyosaki, as an employee you have a job. When you start selling your own services (or products) you own the job. But until you develop a system that lets other people do the work for you, you don’t yet have a business.

In Designing the Company for Your Vacation, I recommended that you work out the best way to handle the responsibilities of each job, standardize the procedures, and codify them. This works well as you’re building the company.

It also limits your company’s ability to adapt as customers expectations of service change. And that’s a constantly moving target.

Its a control issue.

Some owners can’t let go. Their authoritarian management style sends a message to employees: “You may do whatever is necessary to solve the problem, provided that you do exactly as I would do.”

As you built the company you were the motivating force. Now, you’re the limiting factor. Until you can step away from the day-to-day operation you’ve limited your company’s growth as well as your ability to cash out the equity in your company.

So, in addition to teaching your employees to do their jobs as you would do them, you must also give them the authority to do their jobs as they would do them.

Risky? Yes. It involves sharing the dream with your employees, and letting them help you to make it real. It requires relinquishing control. Until “empowerment,” became the buzz word, this was called delegation.

Successful delegation requires that you:

  • Define expectations, and focus on results. Be very clear about standards and how results will be measured (viz., through the employee time tracker app). You don’t need to be concerned with all of the steps your employees take to achieve those results.
  • Turn them lose to do the job. Once you’re convinced they know what’s to be done, the deadlines, and the results you expect, get out of their way.
  • Give your employees the authority to complete the job, and hold them accountable for the outcome.

We opened with an example of an employee having to check with a manager. If the employee had simply said “Yes, we can fix that for you,” what would that customer, and the others who overheard this conversation, think?

Whether you call it delegation or empowerment, employees who can successfully run the business when you’re not there make your company worth more, and your advertising more effective.

Some managers have given employees the authority to resolve any problem that will satisfy the customer and cost the company less than $25. Interestingly, employees seldom go to the limit. Managers are frequently chagrined to find that empowered employees cost the company less than the managers do when it comes to customer satisfaction.

If you want to improve your sales in business, read Sellers Playbook.

Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who works with professional practices and owner operated businesses. Questions about the effect of customer service on advertising may be directed to