The market paradigms are rapidly changing nowadays. With the advent of the technological era and torrential informational flow the way the companies compete has been modified dramatically (Potterfield 1999). Whereas several decades ago the issues of production were important, sales occupy today's business agenda. More specific, the need to monitor the priorities of the customers has become of immense practical value for any type of business. In order to keep afloat, a typical business has to identify what the clients need and how to respond to these needs timely and effectively.
In order to complete this task, traditional hierarchical business structure is typically inefficient (Heathfield 2012). The synergy of the scholars and the business practitioners resulted in the development of the concept known as employee empowerment, which has recently gained particular controversy. The proponents of this theory advocate that the employees should get as much powers as possible in order to serve the needs of the customers effectively, while the opponents are firmly convinced that these powers should be limited in order to ensure full compliance with the companys policies.
The objective of this paper is to demonstrate that under contemporary realities of today's business employee empowerment should be positioned as an effective tool for competition. Moreover, the paper seeks to demonstrate that apart from customers experience and call process components of empowerment the area of problem resolution is the most important within this paradigm.
The Determinants of Customers Treatment Efficiency
Currently, the concept of empowerment has followed two primary goals. Firstly, it is utilized to increase the efficiency of the business institution (Potterfield 1999). In other words, all the major decisions should be resolved immediately after the client informs a respective employee about a particular problem or a particular issue he encountered in the course of their cooperation. An employee should not report the problem to his superiors and ask for clarification or additional guidelines, unless the problem exceeds the scope of his expertise.
Secondly, the concept of empowerment should be always positioned as an effective motivational tool. Different American and European psychologists have expressed multiple convergent opinions that the Paramount driving force of any development, both personal and institutional, is the desire to be important. An increase of employees competences inevitably leads to the positive changes in the levels of their responsibilities, which psychologically increases self-esteem and sense of affiliation with company. They start to realize that their work is not purely mechanical, but is somehow creative. Therefore, the employees are motivated to deliver high-quality products and services.
Conceptually, the metrics currently utilized to measure whether the process of employee empowerment is successful or not, are customers experience and problem resolution.
With regard to the first issue, it is incredibly important to monitor how satisfied the customers are with the way their requests are proceeded, analyzed and responded to. Time and efficiency become crucial in this context. Therefore, in order to make this process coherent, flexible and expedient the employees who directly communicate with the company clients should get substantial liberty of analysis and action.
Firstly, customers experience is the most important determinant of the empowering policies. To illustrate this, Baker and McKenzie, one of the most acknowledged international legal giant, authorized its corporate practice lawyers to elaborate the course actions and to advise clients accordingly without prior consultations with the senior partners. It was revealed that the clients sometimes prefer more expedient and prompt legal advice to more accurate one. As far as the profits are concerned, it has been calculated that it is more effective financially to provide several 'rough' services than a single 'well-polished' since ultimately the results are not fundamentally different. Clients are satisfied despite the fact that under the first scenario the quality of the delivered service is insignificantly lower. Moreover, the companies that follow traditional hierarchical approach advocate the notion that reporting and cooperating with the senior managers and partners is important for the delivery of a high-quality product. However, the practice supported by the series of theoretical studies evidenced that very often the front-line employees are more familiar with the subject matter of the clients requests than the senior managers or partners and therefore superior intervention cannot substantially affect the result of the service.
Overall, the customers prefer to be serviced promptly and relatively effectively, even though not super effectively, when their request is being analyzed and considered during a significant period of time. Consequently, it seems reasonable to broaden the scope of employees powers and to give them an opportunity to carry out the functions which are traditionally attributed to other companys departments.
The area of problem resolution is nowadays positioned as the most important in the course of client- employee intercourse (Heathfield 2012). However, time that the client is willing to give should also be prioritized. The crucial question arising from this dichotomy is whether a particular employee is capable of addressing the needs of the customer individually, without assistance of the superiors or specific departments. In practice, this concept is viewed differently in various industries, although it is commonly accepted that empowering employees to individually complete the requests of the customers is a sensible solution. Firstly, they understand the peculiarities of the particular clients requests better than other companys departments. Alluding to the experience of Baker and McKenzie, it becomes evident that junior associates who complete a particular mergers and acquisition transaction for corporate clients are more familiar with the subject matter of a particular transaction than the senior partners who are expected to guide them, but are not familiar with the transaction in general. Very often contradictory opinions are expressed by the frontline associates and the top management. The fact that should be most indispensably emphasized in this context is that the opinion expressed in the course of action, which is proposed by the first group, often appears to be more effective, irrespective of the experience and high rank of the senior partners or managers. The time that has been wasted on company meetings, negotiations, reporting, analysis and other "guiding" actions can possibly be allocated for direct task implementation. However, this rule can be practically applied when an employee is totally assured that his actions would lead to some positive results. In other words, in the event an employee is not absolutely sure whether the course of actions is right, counseling and advice should be most indispensably sought.
Therefore, it is reasonable to recapitulate the powers of problem resolution directly to the employees while the opportunity of guidance and supervision should become optional. This practice would definitely positively influence the revenues accrued by the company and diminish time required to address the need of a client. An increase of the responsibility and expertise is also an effective motivational option for the employees who will ultimately become more affiliated with the company, feeling that they are trusted.
As far as the main findings of this essay have been summarized, several inferential conclusions can be made. First and foremost, business paradigms have been fundamentally changed nowadays, being focused predominantly on the time needed to address the need of a client. Secondly, the nature of the industries predicate the fact that frontline workers are more familiarized with the subject matter than their superiors and therefore their courses of actions are usually more effective. Ultimately, it is absolutely clear that an increase of the competencies of the employees is beneficial for the financial and other sectors of the business.