Saturday, November 25, 2006

What Do Your Employees Reflect

I walked into a small shop yesterday that sold a variety of things to do with gaming, computers etc, but this could have been any store large or small by the way. I walked in and looked around and there were no labeled isles or shelves or sections to help in a self service environment, so I went to identify/find a clerk in order to inquire about some specific products. There were perhaps 15 other customers in the store and it was impossible to tell them from the floor clerk or other staff, if in fact there were any working the sales area.

Next I went over to the checkout counter and there sitting behind the counter were two employees hard at work on what seemed to be there lunch and immersed in a deep conversation focused on topics other than what there job discription reflected. I stood there for upward of 2 to 3 minutes before they looked at me. They then very sharply said "talk to the floor clerk. We have one". I said I don't see one out there would you point him out to me. At this the young lady said "he's in the corner go look", and turned back to her food as though i wasn't worthy of her attention. Hmmm, I thoughtabout this for a moment, and of course I couldn't let it go, so I forced them to stop eating and answer my question. Needless to say, I didn't buy anything and left the store.

In reflection I concluded that the store had no customer service policy let along standardization for employee behavior nor did the owner/manager care about how the customers felt about their erperience while shopping in the store. Employees should never eat at the customer cvounter or anywhere in the common work area for that matter, especially in front of the customers, it's first of all rude and it sends to your customers a message that says they are not important. All employees should of had well marked name tags or clothing or both in order to be identified easily. Third, and last in this observation is that the employees needed to be trained in how to address the customers and how to put the customer first. especially in the manner in which they addressed and answered questions.

The sad thing here is that this situation is prevalent in most small B2C (consumer bassed) businesses. It also happens in B2B more often than you would like to think, especially with office staff when a customer walks in unexpectedly or calls to trying to reach his contact point. These behaviors and lack of training have explicit negative reflections on the business and the customer’s perception of that business and its brand.

We invite your open comments as always.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Customer Expectations vs Business Policy

It never stops to amaze me how businesses especially small ones develop business policies without relating their outcomes to direct customer service results. For instance, I walked into a hardware store the other day and wanted to make $145.00 purchase. No big deal right? Well it certainly ended up as one. They don't take credit cards, they only cash or debit cards.

Never the less I pursued this with the store manager. First, I didn't bring enough cash. Second, it is a business deductible charge so I wanted it on my Visa card. Well the company policy was set up so that the hardware store would not have to loose that extra small percentage of a purchase that credit card companies charge for the privilege of them bringing more business into the store. This was a "Big mistake", especially since their competition takes Visa and other cards. The manager offered no recourse, not even a feed back channel to higher decision makers, which was another big mistake in the creation of a good customer experience.

Such non customer centered decisions force customers to comply with a company policy that is not customer friendly creating bad feelings in the customer. Such Business centered policies pushes business to a competing business thus loosing a potential revenue stream. "True Customer Service" meets the needs of the customer including formatting business policies to enhance that customer service experience. Needles to say, I went to the competitors and bought with my Visa. Hey! guys, earning 100% of nothing is still 0%. 90% or 60% of something is still money in the bank and a happy customer.

As always we invite your comments and ideas.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Its all in the way They see it

Fist I want to thank all those who patiently returned time after time even without consistent material being here to read. I had been quite ill and this blog was somewhat out of reach. So Thank you and I'm back.

As business owners and managers we get so caught up in what we do every day that we forget one simple and very basic principle. It's not how we see the business or how the marketers claim they not the needs of the focus market or how much the sales people think they own the customer. It is in reality how the customer sees us.

Ever have a conversation with someone and no matter what we say they think they no what we will say next or they are off in some mind zone not even connected to what we are saying. Well in a recent poll the findings show that a very large segment of customers in B2B and the B2C retail markets think that is how they are treated by small and large businesses.

Maybe we should not look at how much we build the team, but in how good our listening skills are.

As always we invite your comments.