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When The Focus is On Pleasing the Boss, the Customer Loses…

And eventually everyone else does to.

Several years ago I was at a department store to buy a Christmas present. As I got to the check-out area, there were three or four other people in line in front of me. Not a big deal. Christmas shopping usually means waiting a little longer in line. However, as I stood there a few minutes, I realized it was taking quite a bit of time for the customer currently at the counter to complete the transaction. I wondered why, so I started to pay attention to what was up.

I was shocked. The reason it was taking so long for each customer was because the associate handling the money, was also wrapping the presents for the customers. Wasn’t there a specific area for someone to take their gifts to have this done? No. Wasn’t there someone else that could come over and do the wrapping after someone was checked out? No.

Being someone who is sensitive to how customers are handled and business is conducted, I concluded that someone in charge had made a decision based on numbers to have less workers, at the expense of serving the customer (yes, there could have been other reasons too). Why would someone make a decision like that? The culture of how the leadership prioritizes. They chose to inconvenience the customer to “save” a few bucks.

I never went back to that store, in the several more years we lived in the area.

Fast Forward to Round Two…

Recently, I needed a few new shirts and a pair of pants. I went to a department store in our area, and it happened to be the same chain from my experience years ago. It was the middle of the day during the week, so I figured it would be fine…and it’s a different State and many years since the last debacle.

I go in the store, and after finding what I wanted, went to the checkout station. It was closed. I walked to the next one. It was closed. After walking around for a few minutes, I found one that was open at a jewelry counter. There was a line several people long, so I thought surely there has to be another one open of the 15 or so checkout stations located around the store. After walking around the entire store, I finally found another one open.

In the entire store, there were two stations open. I get that. There’s a shortage of labor right now, and it was a time of day that is less busy. But how about a simple sign at the front door that tells the patrons, that checkout counter x and y are the ones open right now. How hard would that have been?

The walk around wasn’t a big deal for me, but what about someone less able or much older? It was the same story manifesting in a different way. No consideration for the customers experience. Inward numbers focused first.

This issue is clearly a manifestation of poor leadership from the top down. The perceived short-term gain is laughable when you consider the long- term reputation damage of having customers consistently have a poor experience. It’s exacerbated in today’s world too considering all the shopping options available and the pressure from online shopping to up the game if you are a brick-and-mortar retailer.

The Other Side of The Coin…

I needed to go to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned and checked, since I hadn’t done so since we left Maryland and moved to New Bern in 2018. I know. That’s way too long between checkups from a health prevention and risk management perspective, but that’s the truth…even someone who is highly aware of living in the proactive quadrant of life still messes up too😊

Anyway, my friend Marc, suggested a local dentist practice here in New Bern (Gibbs). With his referral I was able to get an appointment as a first-time client (apparently, they are so full it’s tough to get in…and now I know why).

From the moment I walked in the door to the thank you card (pictured above) I received three days later; this was easily the best experience I have ever had in a dentist office. The waiting area of was cozy and had awesome comfy chairs. The people at every level, from reception, to tech, to assistants, to hygienist, to the dentist, and then check-out, were friendly, patient, welcoming, and genuinely cared about making sure my experience was excellent. And I am a very nervous dental client/patient in general. It is just something that makes me highly uncomfortable, and yet I was actually comfortable the entire time. Oh, and the thank you note was hand-written and reflective of the interaction I had with the dentist…so it was actually thoughtful in its content…not just nature.

The culture in this dental practice was quite clear. Treat your employees well as the path to providing an awesome client/patient experience. You cannot fake a service culture. There are simply too many moments in a busy day where that falsehood would be revealed by a decision or a communication.

Servant Cultures Come from Servant Leadership

You cannot lead from a fear based-power/authority position and expect the people in your organization to serve the client well. Human beings are emotional creatures, and in addition to navigating all that we have to navigate in life, we are generally sensitive to the energy around us, and affected by our own fears and insecurities.

For the client that your business serves to feel like they matter, they have to be treated that way. They have to be considered in every facet of the interaction they will have with your organization. That level of consideration can only happen when the people interacting with the client know that they are cared for and matter, and not only encouraged to think about how to best serve the client, but are free to make decisions with the client in mind, and then trained on how to interact in the best way possible.

The most important thing in any business are the people in that business. If you want to have a healthy, sustainable bottom line, then you serve the people that do the work. Then the customer wins, the employee wins, the leadership wins, and in essence all the stakeholders win.

If you need some Coaching, or Training for your organization, reach out to me.

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Many Blessings, Todd

P.S. Stay diligent in boosting your immune system. Vitamin D, Antioxidants, Zinc, etc. all give your body the resources it needs to stay strong. In addition to my normal health regiment, which has kept me living free of medication in addition to operating daily in a high energy capacity, here are two different packs that help keep your immunity high: Winter Boost Pack and Winter Boost Pack Ultra these are available to you manufacturer’s direct at wholesale.

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