Once upon a time I was a brand new manager in a jewelry store. There are many different styles of gold chains; one of them a hollow rope. They were made of tiny hollow tubes that were notorious for breaking if you even looked at them wrong. Because of the delicacy of the ropes, we didn´t give refunds if the customer broke them.
In my second week as manager one of our regular customers came in with a broken rope. She admitted it was her negligence that caused it to break, but still wanted a refund. I said no. She argued. I refused to budge. She turned and with a parting shot said she would never shop there again. Nor did she.Once upon another time, several years later, a customer wanted to buy a diamond ring worth several thousand dollars. I ran his credit history which came back pretty shaky. But I took a chance anyway because I wanted to make the sale in order to make my store´s sales goals for the month. Three months later my corporate credit department chewed my you know what out because the guy never made a payment.
Years later I heard a presentation by Scott Weatherford, a minister from Victoria, Texas. He said, "A river without banks is a puddle." He was talking about the importance of imposing limits on children to help guide them through life.
I could have used limits in my role as manager. In the two examples above I was unsure of my limits. I´m not talking about policies. The lesson I learned from the gold chain episode was to warn the customer about the delicacy of the rope chain and then to be more lenient in giving refunds to my best customers.
Do your employees know their limits? Do your new managers have experienced mentors they can turn to for advice? Have you sat down with either group and discussed scenarios involving your polices as they relate to the customer service experience? Or do you just jump on your employees when they make a mistake?
I actually turned out to be a fairly good manager, and was promoted to district manager, but I had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. For much of my career, my supervisor was half a continent away and I only contacted him when it was "important."
Talk to your employees and to your managers. Describe certain scenarios to them and ask them how they would respond. Then let them know how you would like them to respond. Be specific about their limits, but within those limits empower them to deliver legendary customer service.
I´m raising funds for the American Cancer Society´s Relay For Life. It´s a fund-raiser that supports cancer research, education, advocacy, and services. Please support me or click here to set up your own team in your community. What´s a Relay For Life you ask? It´s a combination county fair and slumber party. Go check one out. You´ll be glad you did.