More than 25 years I become the manager of a mass market jewelry store in
Still, I had to learn a lot of things through trial and error. This is the first post in an occasional series discussing things I know now that I wish I knew then.
The first thing I wish I knew on my first day as manager is that customers’ needs frequently trump corporate policies.
Learning The Hard Way
Shortly after I became a manager, a long- time customer came in with a broken chain. Because our corporate policy was that there were no refunds on hollow gold chains, I refused to give her one.
That was the last time I ever saw her. She had spent thousands of dollars over the years with us and I had lost a valued customer over a crappy $100 chain.
I know you’re saying, “Glenn, this is basic customer service. It’s an example of ‘The customer is always right!’” And you are right.
But nowhere was this covered in my training by my manager. I was told to adhere to the corporate policies and was informed of the dire consequences if I strayed from them. I was given sales training, product knowledge, and taught how to inventory and keep the store clean. But I was not taught how to maximize the customer service experience.
Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge
It was only after I started talking with my more experienced fellow managers that I learned that, sometimes it’s okay to ignore a policy, especially when it results in retaining a customer. In fact, everyone in senior management had done the same thing when they were store managers.
If I had stayed with that chain and become a senior manager I would have advocated for two things. First, that manager trainees learn more about the importance of customer service and when it was okay to bend policies. Second, I would have audited our policies to be sure they did not conflict or hamper delivering legendary customer service.
Are your future managers trained in what to do when customer service bumps into corporate policies and procedures?
Have your policies and procedures been analyzed to determine their impact on the customer service experience?
Do you have a mentor program in place for new managers?