As a consumer I am neutral on most customer service I receive. Occasionally, I walk out feeling great, becoming a convert, and drinking the Kool-Aid. Sometimes, I’m driven to wonder how a business is going to survive when it is employing untrained, uncaring, disengaged employees and in a saturated marketplace where I can either purchase the same thing somewhere else, or worse still, shop online! Does anyone else leave a retail outlet feeling like they have just been mugged?
I wonder what those businesses were thinking or hoping for when onboarding those particular individuals? During my occasional whinge on the subject, some colleagues state along the lines that ‘What do you expect from them? How engaged do you expect them to be in that sort of role?’. Well geez Karen, I don’t think the owners asked them to make me feel like [insert negative] and never go back there again.
So, who is to blame? Well it’s not me, and not really the customer service person, so that leaves-
Creating beneficial returns
Undertaking just a few proven steps within your business will improve your bottom line.
Values and purpose
When was the last time you reiterated these values with your workers and motivated them along the way? If you are part of a franchise group or similar, I am sure you have well drafted mission statements, values and standards easily available. If you aren’t, and don’t have these in place already, get some assistance. It might not be a forever job, but while they are employed feeling part of something bigger, and feeling valued makes a big difference to workers attitudes. Further, if the work they undertake can become repetitive and mind numbing at times make sure you mix it up a little for each worker.
Simple solution – genuinely encourage and motivate workers through mentoring them to learn new skills within the business. Encourage workers to think from a systems improvement perspective where their involvement makes your business better.
It’s not all about the quantity
Many retail related businesses appear to rely upon a worker’s quantitative results only. While the doors stay open if you are selling, make sure you don’t allow your workers to let it become a bearpit or a gladiatorial process where sneaky employees use a range of tricks to appear to make the most sales, all the while disengaging those others around them.
I have a strong feeling that other than being taught to use the point of sale system and how to restock, the onboarding process was a bit light on. I’m pretty sure that was never the real intention, but it just worked out that way. It feels like it’s just about selling me something…anything. In turn, this approach disengages customers. In truth you only need Rockstar behaviour when you first open, then you need a little more substance to ensure longevity.
Simple solution – make actual customer service the priority, and not the sideshow alley kind. Teach workers properly and they will have greater pride in what they do and be greater brand ambassadors.
The last few years have seen a large number of well-known brands, via their franchisees, get slammed for failing to pay workers properly. Sometimes this has been through oversight, and sometimes it has been deliberate. Either way with the workplace advisory services and payroll systems available, neither should be happening. I would not become a shareholder in a company that can’t even do basic payroll accounting properly.
Surprisingly even after the last couple of years where such well known logo brands have been front page news over their underpayment of workers, more are happy to take their place. The Valiram Group, parent of brands such as Victoria’s Secret in Australia, are being considered by authorities for alleged underpayments of young retail workers. What a great way to disincentivise those who are new to the workforce and should be helping to build the brand in Australia.
Simple solution – pay appropriate rates of pay and on time, every time (Captain Obvious is right).
Find your balance with your workers somewhere between self-control and micromanagement. However you manage things take 100% ownership of staffing issues. Improve the processes already in place, solve any problems as they arise, keep employees engaged and reap the benefits.