Ever had a manager who hung those motivational posters around the office, spoke of “pushing together,” or “you’re empowered to give great service” – and then acted at least once in complete disregard of those statements?
It takes only one time caught by subordinates to lose the faith of an entire group of faithful followers. And that certainly counts for customers too, although the customer jungle drums don’t communicate quite as fast as the virtual water cooler system, even with today’s many ways of posting negative reviews about company behavior.
[Email readers, continue here...] On the other hand, there are great examples of managers who put their reputation or large amounts of company resources on the line to reinforce just such statements. Think of a surprising positive interaction you had with a call center employee or store clerk who resolved your problem and calmed your anger by exceeding your expectations. That happened to me recently when I made an off-handed complaint to a call center employee solving another problem for me and she immediately said, “I’ll take care of that by crediting you in full for the cost of that unit.” I was floored, and told dozens of people about the unexpected service offered without an angered demand or even a request for compensation.
How do you empower your people to actually do what you claim as your motto or standard of service? Some hotel chains have a policy that any desk clerk can make a problem right up to a cost of over a thousand dollars. Now that’s showing faith.
I have told the story of a customer of our company whose facility was destroyed in a catastrophic fire which took with it all of the records of guests staying at and reserved to be coming to the property. The catch: the property was on a remote island in Australia, and the manufacturing plant in Southern California. Without a second thought, our people gathered to help the distraught property management recover data from backups, interview present guests, and quickly install the brand new computer diverted from another installation shipped overnight to theirs. The benefit to the customer was obvious as was their continuous praise for the company and our people in helping them in their hour of need. But just as important, the employees of the company participated as a unit in following the stated promise in our motto, “Customer first, always!”
Actions always speak louder than words. Always.