“I was listening in to a customer call,” she said (you know, “this call may be monitored for training purposes.”) “And the customer was explaining a problem with the product. It wasn’t an area of expertise for the employee and so I expected her to say something like, “I’ll have to transfer you to the right department.” However what the employee said was shocking:
“I really don’t care.”
Imagine talking to a sales or customer service representative and being told “I really don’t care.”
A recession was officially announced recently which just puts the fork in it - it’s done. Jobs are scarce, companies are closing or downsizing and consumers are protecting their wallets. So wouldn’t you think the natural inclination would be to treat every customer willing to do business with us with kid gloves?
So what’s with the employee attitude?
I have to look toward the internal culture of the corporation. If the company’s primary goal is fiscally driven — keep it in the black, measuring success purely by profits — then how valuable are relationships viewed?
If we want our employees to offer superior customer service and to focus on building relationships, we must begin by treating our employees the same way.
People are scared and when they begin to circle the wagons, the knee jerk reaction is EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF.
To overcome the attitude that leads to an employee saying “I really don’t care” we have to make sure the employee knows their own personal value to the overall success of the company.
- Communicate often and honestly.
- Make sure employees understand their value in the overall success of the company.
- Ask for feedback.
- Make sure the open door policy is in effect and not just lip service.
- Frontline employees have their finger on the pulse of the consumer – ask what they are hearing and what suggestions they have for improving customer relations.
If you treat employees like the partners they are, they’ll be more inclined to focus on customer needs and not their own.
Susan Heathfield has written an article entitled How to Demonstrate Respect at Work and she talks about open communication, effective listening skills and including staff in decision-making meetings. I love her comment about praising more than criticizing. It is so easy to find the negative and focus on what needs fixing. However, we need to balance suggestions on improvements with high praise for what is done well so the employee truly believes they play an important role in the organization.
You’ve heard the adage “pay it forward.” By building relationships with our employees and ensuring they feel part of the organization’s success that will translate to employees treating customers with the same understanding and importance.
During these challenging economic times how we treat customers and the word of mouth they spread about their experience becomes even more critical to our overall success.
Should service increase as the economy declines? Yes. Our customers are the reason we exist. Whether times are tough or plentiful –- customers come first and it starts at home with our employees.
How has your service changed with the economy? Are you providing additional customer service training? What communication programs do you have in place to receive employee feedback to help build customer relationships?
About the Author: Deborah Chaddock Brown opened her freelance writing business AllWrite Ink in 2004 after almost 17 years with the International retail optical corporation, Pearle Vision. Deborah’s background is in franchising, operations, marketing and communication, however, her passion is helping businesses connect with their target audience using the Internet. Deborah blogs at Websites People Read
Deborah is a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Networks