Almost everywhere I shop, I’ve noticed that customer service has greatly improved. If I make a special request, it is usually welcomed with a smile and quick action. This is one benefit of our current economic downturn.
My friend recently had a different experience. “Jamie” wanted to make a quick stop for some bagels at local chain. She stepped into line-- where customers ordered sandwiches. But since Jamie didn’t need a sandwich, she asked the manager, standing nearby, if she could just get a couple of bagels to go. The manager didn’t smile but accommodated the request, bagging the bagels and leaving them with the cashier.
Jamie entered the payment line. There was only one person ahead of her but it was a complicated transaction. After some waiting, Jamie left without the bagels. She had wanted them and was ready to pay for them, but she wasn’t willing to wait. Jamie was frustrated with the manager. “She did the least she could to satisfy my needs. She never glanced my way after delivering the bagels. If she had, she could have seen that I was still in line. She could have offered to take my payment, even if they had to enter it into the cash register later.”
Also, this manager is not modeling great customer service to her team.
How can service providers (especially large chains) motivate their employees to care about the customer? While incentives or penalties (carrots and sticks) can create temporary motivation, the greatest motivators are intrinsic to the employee. One of these intrinsic motivators is “knowing that I helped someone else.” Helping others feels good, especially if we are acknowledged for our efforts. Managers need to not only model and emphasize this natural impulse, they also need to remove any company protocols that covertly punish an employee’s extra effort.
Hopefully, Jamie’s actions will alert this manager that her current behavior is unwise in this (or any) economy.
© 2009 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved