4 reasons your staff lack the confidence they need to succeed

If you seek medical advice from a doctor and they are nervous or unsure of their diagnosis, are you going to feel confident with their guidance or are you going to seek help elsewhere? We think it is fair to assume you would be calling another doctor as soon as you walk out of the door.

This is exactly the same with your staff, if they are not confident with your customers then your customers are going to look elsewhere. So why are your staff not confident and what can you do to change this?


They lack knowledge – Most of us know the feeling of beginning a conversation on a subject and then realising we don’t actually know as much as we thought we did. We begin letting the other person take control of the discussion, which means they guide the direction of the outcome. This is a disaster if your staff are there to sell or provide advice to your customers.

You must keep your staff up to date on all things company related, especially in terms of policies, offers and products. It is not enough to simply tell them at the beginning of the day, make the information easily accessible so they can refer to it whenever and wherever they want to! Make learning fun and part of every day. Keep your staff on their toes by holding quizzes, showing leaderboards and asking staff questions to make sure their knowledge is up to date. They will thank you for it when they get stuck in a tricky conversation with a customer.


They feel inferior  If your staff feel lower in status to certain colleagues then naturally they are going to assume that those members of staff know more than them. This means they will always defer responsibility to that team member because they don’t feel that they are the best person to answer the customer’s question. This leads to angry customers, in fact, a survey by ThinkJar found that 84% of consumers are frustrated when the agent does not have the information.

They give consent to feel inferior because they respect their managers. But your staff don’t have to give consent to feel inferior, a good example is if a new manager was employed to oversee all responsibilities in a factory but they were called an ‘operations coordinator’ instead of a ‘manager’, the person handling deliveries would not give consent to feel inferior to a coordinator. This is because they recognise that this person oversees everyone and ensures everything works effectively together, the coordinator doesn’t know the details of deliveries like they do. However, if the new person is called a manager they would give consent to feel inferior because they understand that this person controls all operations and therefore they must know more than them.

What is important to realise is that those team members who work in a certain area daily, know more details than their manager who doesn’t work so closely in that particular division.

You don’t have to change everyone’s job titles, you just need to make it clear what everyone’s responsibilities are and what your responsibilities are as a senior! This makes staff feel confident in their role and what they are talking about when conversing with customers.


They think that mistakes mean failure – They are scared of committing to customers because they have a fear of failing. If you have a culture that punishes people who make small mistakes or don’t follow every rule by the book, then staff are going to be cautious with all information that they provide to customers.

Instead, you should be more open and understanding with your staff. If they say or do things slightly wrong you should say something like “oh just so you know for next time” but make sure it’s a mistake that is worth highlighting. For example, if they explained the returns policy before explaining the current deal you have in store, but you like it done the other way round, is there really any point in highlighting this when they made the sale anyway?


They are told that the customer is always right – It is drilled into their brain that no matter what, the customer is always right. This makes them doubt their own knowledge and therefore come across as incompetent to the customer.

For example, someone goes into a leisure club and complains that the pool has too much chlorine, they state it shouldn’t be that strong because it is hurting their eyes. It is your staff’s responsibility to tell them that it has that level of chlorine for safety reasons and suggest that they protect their eyes if it is personally too strong for them. If staff were to simply agree with the customer this makes them think the leisure club doesn’t know what they’re doing and can’t run a pool correctly.

Instead of instilling this damaging quote to your staff, you should tell them “The customer is always entitled to their opinion, which you should react politely to, but they are NOT always right.”

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 26th February 2018