Caring about your Employees helps you care about your Customers

Caring about your employees means you care about your customers.

During a recent chat with a friend of mine he related a story that I felt needed to be shared. It represents a good example, of how the combination of management arrogance and ignorance can turn a positive customer experience into a negative one. With this particular situation it would have cost nothing and used very little time to have ensured the great experience already established by the employee would have been maintained, read on.

Great Experience

My friend was in a popular book store late in 2016 looking for materials for his son who was about to go to go back to school. They couldn’t find what they were looking for so asked a young assistant for help. It was a weekend and the assistant looked like they had the typical “Saturday Job” attitude and at first glance didn’t appear to be particularly helpful. However first impressions can be deceptive and the young assistant turned out to be extremely informative and attentive going the extra mile for my friend and his son to find what they wanted and made further recommendations. The assistant managed to sell them more than they originally intended and left them feeling very positive about the experience.

Positive story, great experience. Now here is the but. Unfortunately this is where things start to go downhill.

Great Experience goes bad

My friend was so impressed by what he had experienced he wanted to ensure the assistant was recognised for the effort made so he approached two managers who happened to be in the store at the time. Their first reaction when approached was to be defensive, obviously anticipating bad news, they did however loosened up when it became clear they were getting a positive story. Their response when my friend related his story and went on to suggest that the assistant needed some recognition was, to say the least very disappointing and spoke volumes about how the store management felt about their staff. Their response was just to point my friend in the direction of the till to pick a form and fill it in, the managers then immediately turned away to continue with their discussion, they didn’t even ask for the employees name.

We have to ask what this says about the management’s attitude towards their staff, now what should have happened?

Good, Better, Best Options

  • The good option would have been to ask who the employee was and get someone to go and get the form.
  • The better option would have been to as the employees name, get the form personally and ask for some further details.
  • The best option would have been to get the name of the employee take my friend somewhere to fill in the form with him and have a chat about the experience. Then for the manager to personally thank the employee, there and then.

Things improve but opportunity lost

My friend wasn’t sure if the employee would get any recognition based on the managements response to the recommendation offered. However there is a more positive end as about 2 months later he got a letter to say the member of staff had been nominated for a quarterly customer service recognition and was awarded vouchers. So it seems the company recognition process did work and someone cared, somewhere.

The local management though had turned a very positive feeling about the store, the brand and the purchasing experience into something quite sour and it stuck despite the more positive outcome. It would have cost nothing to leave the customer with a very positive feeling which would have been passed on (NPS).

This, in my opinion, is a good example of inconsistency in the delivery of employee and customer care with very heavy reliance upon the good will of the employee to deliver exceptional service without the role modelling and support of their management. Whether this problem runs throughout the management chain or just at the level of management experienced we don’t know. The employee did get his recognition but the opportunity for immediate acknowledgement had gone.


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