By Rick Weaver
Recently police had to be dispatched to the land of children’s birthday parties in suburban Detroit. It seems that one patron was bothered by the fact that two individuals were spending too long in the photo booth. According to police reports, the patron had asked an employee to intervene. However the employee did not want to get involved and chose to avoid any confrontation with the duo in the booth. With impatient children in party hats waiting for a picture, customer decided to take matters into their own hands. Soon a fight ensued and not even a costumed Chuck E. Cheese could control the situation. What could have been resolved with simple customer service skills ended in multiple arrests.
The Chuck E. Cheese employee was fortunate to learn this lesson at a very young age. What they did was no different than what entrepreneurs, department managers, business owners, HR executives, and others do everyday. They avoid any potential confrontations with customers – both internal and external.
The customer’s obvious message was one of frustration waiting for the photo booth. The real message the customer was sending was hidden in facial expressions, the enunciation of the spoken words, body language, and stance — all of which can be easily detected after a short training session.
Let’s look at what the clerk did.
The clerk used the most common conflict resolution style used in the business world today, avoidance. People can be difficult or uncomfortable dealing with seemingly negative situations. They make excuses for not getting involved. Here are three of the most popular excuses:
1. The situation will blow over – By walking away, the clerk may have assumed these adults would not resort to such childish behavior. The clerk probably thought once the couple walked out of the photo booth nothing more would have been said other than a sneer at each other.
2. It’s not worth my involvement – Many times we focus on other problems over the current thinking in these situations are more important. This could be a salesperson who ignores one disgruntled customer to give more attention to a higher volume customer or the manager ignoring the needs of a coworker because a high-level report is due. Whatever the case, the internal or external customer will interpret the avoidance as meaning they are not as important as other aspects of one’s business.
3. There’s nothing I can do about it – When a person feels the cause is hopeless, avoiding the customer seems like a good time management tool. However the disgruntled customer never lets the situation drop completely. Instead they will tell an average of 11 friends and coworkers about their poor treatment. Think about the receptionist that ignores the fact that others are no longer bringing special projects to them. Eventually the coworkers wonder why the receptionist is even on the payroll. As the receptionist continues to ignore the situation, management eventually realizes that they need a new receptionist who will be a team player. Likewise a salesperson who ignores the fact that Mrs. Jones no longer buys from him or her and figures there is nothing that can be done to regain the business could be right. However not tring to do something means Mrs. Jones will tell a dozen others why they shouldn’t do business either.
Doing a customer service checkup.
In all three scenarios just given, the customer, whether internal or external, will eventually find someplace else to buy. An internal customer who is a subordinate or coworker will probably elevate the problem up the chain of command. The external customer may complain, but is nine times more likely to just go away never to return again. Whichever ultimately happens, a serious business problem is likely to result.
Therefore it is extremely important to create a customer service culture to permeate every aspect of your business. This includes direct employees, contract employees, partnerships, and those with whom you network. Here are five warning signs that you or your organization is failing to give superior customer service*.
1. The customer is the most knowledgeable person – If you find your customer is the most knowledgeable person in the transaction, there can be no doubt customer service is lacking. It is surprising how frequently this occurs in the workplace.
2. Poor treatment of coworkers or networking partners – When you treat business acquaintances at any level in a poor manner it is a sure sign of customer mistreatment. It is very difficult for anyone to be an effective Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, being mean to one person and nice to the next. If associates are treated badly, that poor treatment will extend to the customers.
3. Lack of relationship ownership – When responsibilities are passed from one hand to another it shows a lack of ownership in a business relationship.
4. Excessive or secret policies – If a business is riddled with red tape, having policies for every transaction or movement, it is nearly impossible to deliver quality customer service. No customer relationship can be built on trust if the customer is constantly learning about new rules. It is no different than playing a board game with a young child who makes the rules every time it looks like they may lose. Just as the child frustrates their fellow players, customers become frustrated.
5. Problems must be handled in multilevel structured pyramids – Each time people involved in a problem must repeat the problem to someone new they become more agitated and angered. Employees and business associates at all levels need to be empowered to resolve situations as they arise.
Look at your business in light of these five steps. You can be assured that if any of these five are present, your business is not being maximized. Examine what you’re doing and look for ways to make corrections.
For more information be sure to contact Maximpact at 248-802-6138 or via email to www.getmaximpact.com.
*From 8 Great Traits of Superior Customer Service, ©MaxImpact, www.getmaximpact.com. (used with permission)
Rick Weaver is an accomplished business executive with a wealth of experience in retail, market analysis, supply chain enhancement, project management, team building, and process improvement.
Rick career began in retailing as a stockclerk, eventually becoming the Director of Vendor Development at Kmart Corporation during it’s heyday. In this position he worked with hundreds of Kmart’s suppliers to improve mutual processes, procedures, and profits.
As a consultant, Rick has worked with companies in various industries to develop leadership and business strategies. As an entrepreneur, Rick has founded or co-founded six successful organizations, including non-profit and for profit. Now in his role as president of MaxImpact, Rick uses his vast experience helping individuals connect to their dreams and teams connect to a common vision.
Rick’s presentation style of blending humor, real life examples, and easy to implement ideas has made him a popular speaker at seminars, workshops, and conferences in in 43 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
(c) Max Impact Corporation
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