I went to FedEx Kinko’s yesterday to get a new passport photo taken, and had a superb customer-service experience that was undermined by bad management.
I walked in and an associate (call him Dan) warmly greeted me. I then walked over to the customer service desk and waited while the associate there helped another customer. Dan came over to see what he could help me with.
Dan was so genuine, so convivial, so service-oriented that it was, well, amazing!
We went through the process of taking the picture and Dan told me it would be a few minutes and he would come and find me or I could find him at the counter when I was done browsing.
And browse I did. I returned to the desk and Dan helped me through the transaction and we developed quite a rapport (I respond to great service), exchanging pleasant conversation.
As I was leaving, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I was going to make sure the manager knew that he had a keeper on his hands.
I approached the desk to find two guys in ties. When I asked who was running the show, one pointed at the other, a clear sign they expected to hear a complaint: “Not my job to listen to complaints when my superior is here.”
So I said to the guy, “You’re the guy running the show?” and his response was, “I could be.”
At this point, I said, “Well, you are or you aren’t. Which is it?”
He replied that he was.
I said, “Great,” and then proceed to tell him about my extraordinary experience with Dan. Instead of thanking me profusely and gushing about his employee, his response was, “Okay.”
On my way out, Dan thanked me (as he overheard my compliment) and made sure I left with a great lasting impression.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Your name tag says “manager”, not “weenie.”
This guy clearly didn’t want to deal with a potential complaint, hence his response that he “could be” the manager.
Great managers lead and lead by example. It must be so degrading for employees to watch a manager who is afraid to confront customers because there might be a potential issue. Not exactly a leadership trait I would look for in a manager. You can see the job desciption: “Must be afraid of confrontation.”
Here are a few traits I see in great managers:
- Great managers lead and lead by example. Sometimes you have to get in there and do the dirty work with your employees. You get great team support in retail if you act like part of the team. Employees think, “If the manager can clean the toilet, then so can I.”
- Great managers are service-oriented. Interacting with customers and solving issues is part of the role of manager. Make sure you play that role. Your customers and your employees expect you to do so.
- Great managers accept constructive criticism, then act on it. Many managers dig their heels in and don’t heed advice that’s given to them. For that matter, even Presidents of companies I work with are that way sometimes. You’ve got to be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking in order to become better at what you do.
- Great managers empower employees. Enough said.
On another related note, I recently advised that “the customer is always right.” I wanted to add a technique to dealing with customer issues that works every time: Just start off by saying “I’m sorry.”
Saying you’re sorry takes away the customer’s power. You’ve admitted fault and are going to make it right…it’s the best way to diffuse any potential customer issue before it gets a chance to turn ugly. It’s my first piece of advice to anyone dealing with customers and customer issues. Try it. I guarantee is works.
So, do you have managers or do you have weenies running the show? Leave the weenies for the BBQ and ensure your team respects the person who is in charge.
What traits do you look to instill in your managers?