We love employees who go above and beyond. Who doesn’t? In fact, every year we look across our client base and acknowledge the individuals who receive the most customer recognition and reward them for being the “Brand Ambassadors” of their companies. Brand Ambassadors talk about their work with passion regardless if they are the partner of an accounting firm or a customer service representative. These individuals are exceptional, and every organization interested in transforming the customer experience needs more of them.

But recently as we were raving to a telecommunications client about the importance of these individuals, we faced another question. Customer feedback for this client was showing customers were recognizing the customer service staff for calling post-installation to check if the technician had met all of their needs. Customers loved the additional touchpoint, and it made them feel taken care of. But the CEO was less than thrilled. “Do I have great people,” he asked, “or just broken processes that they have to work around that makes them great?”

He explained that the reason the service reps were doing this is because so many times the installers didn’t show up or, when they did, they lacked the equipment to do the job. Employees knew this and were calling to check in with the customer to ensure that the problem didn’t escalate. Customers appreciated this, but it placed unnecessary pressure on the customer service team.

A May article in CRM Buyer further illustrates this point:

When a garage door failed, trapping two cars, an early morning call brought out a service technician at 7:30am. Because the company kept meticulous records, he came equipped with the proper springs for the door, even though it had been purchased by the previous homeowners. The customer jokingly apologized for the early service call, and the technician answers, “The earlier I start my day, the earlier I get to knock off – so thank you!”

Clearly the bright outlook of the technician colored this experience excellent, but it’s also worth noting that the technician likely felt so positive because he worked for a company that had processes in place allowing him to do great work. This company didn’t need customer service reps to “go above and beyond” because the technicians were empowered to get it right the first time. Indeed, our Brand Ambassadors consistently mention their companies’ outstanding customer service philosophies as being something that inspires them to go above and beyond for customers.

Behavioral theorist Dan Pink says that humans are motivated by three things: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Broken internal processes prevent employees from being masters in their work, and this is innately demoralizing. Zappos, a company often praised for its incredible service culture, brings this to light perfectly. Zappos founded an exceptional self-service technology with the understanding that this would free their people to be customer service masters. The right processes free their employees to create the “wow!” moments that has made Zappos famous.

Technology, processes, and protocols cannot change people. They can, however, send a powerful message to employees that you are behind them 100% in becoming customer experience masters.