Take a walk around your call center (or any other part of your business) and really focus on what you see and hear going on around you. Don’t just breeze through– REALLY focus on what is happening. Take in the sights and sounds around you. Do you see employees slouching way down in their chairs as they slowly peck at the keys? Are people whispering in the hallways? When you pass someone in the corridor is eye contact made, a smile shared and a mutual greeting exchanged? As you pass by an employees who is speaking with a customer do you hear, “Uh-huh… yeah… Like I said, we don’t cover that here” or “You need to come in and pay that at the office since you’re a cash only customer”.
Are you WOWed by what you see and hear going on around you? Have you thought about why you are not wowed?
I visited my local Staples last week to pick up a few supplies. As usual, I arrived a few minutes before they opened. I waited in the car until my cell phone alerted me that it was 8:00 and then I proceeded to the door. The employee was moving the large gated doors away and I stood back on the sidewalk out of the way. When he was finished, he looked up at me and said, “We’re not open yet, but I guess I will let you in”.
Can you guess how I felt? If you are thinking unappreciated, disrespected, irritated and a little perturbed; you are thinking exactly what I was feeling! I thought about going somewhere else, but due to having very little time and a busy day ahead of me, I promptly picked up the items I needed and proceeded to the check out person.
I took the opportunity to share the words of her co-worker with the employee who was at the register. Her response to me was, “They are really strict about letting customers in before we open”. I asked who the manager was and before giving me Benjamin’s name, she quickly told me, “He will tell you the same thing I just told you”. Are you thinking what I was thinking? You got it! Now my feelings were really going down negative alley very quickly.
This is not the first time that I have had a negative experience at Staples. Why do I keep shopping there? Well, when I am in a hurry and I have to buy just a few items, the convenience factor outweighs the service factor. But when I have more time, I definitely shop somewhere else!
What have I been told in the past when I have voiced my dissatisfaction with Staples and other companies? Here is the list:
- He’s a new employee. He doesn’t know all the rules yet.
- Yea, I know. I’ve talked to her about that before. She’s still learning.
- She just got back from being out/on vacation/FMLA/etc. She’s still getting back into the swing of things.
- Most of our customers aren’t as picky as you are and most of them don’t care about this stuff.
- She’s better than she was last month. She still has a way to go, but she is getting better.
- We shouldn’t have hired him, but now we’re stuck with him.
- Thanks for telling me. I’ll talk to him when I get a chance.
- Sorry, but she was right, that really is our policy.
- Maybe you misunderstood her. She didn’t really mean that.
- You’re not the first person to complain about him. I get that a lot.
- That’s not really her job. She was just filling in.
- We didn’t really hire him to do that specific job. He’s really not as qualified as he needs to be.
The value in this list is understanding that it is human nature to make excuses. We all do it every day. But when it comes to our customers, we can’t afford to make excuses for service that just doesn’t make us feel WOWed deep down in our gut. We have to know the excuses that we are up against so we can catch ourselves when we find that we are thinking these similar statements. Companies are losing money, wasting time and not only irritating customers, but they are doing a grave injustice to the employees.
Our employees deserve to know how their behaviors are genuinely perceived by the customers and what it is going to take to make our customers not just happy with us– but truly a partner with us who is committed to our success. Am I committed to Staples success? DEFINITELY NOT! Why? Because their behaviors from their employees tell me that they are not committed to their own success.
When we talk about customer loyalty- that’s really what we are talking about… a truly committed partnership in which we work together for each other’s mutual success.
Now take another walk around your business. What behaviors need your attention? What are the root causes of those behaviors? What excuses are your leaders making for those behaviors?
MOMENT OF REFLECTION
The first step in changing our business is to look at our own behaviors. What have I been tolerating in myself? What excuses have I been making to myself for my behaviors? Have I been telling myself that I have always been this way? That you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? That no one ever told me that I needed to change? What excuses do I need to face so that I change myself to be a better leader today than I was yesterday?