Sunday, July 3, 2016

No, Thank God?

If the general perception at your company is that your customers whine a lot... maybe you need to start listening to what they are complaining about. Are your customers really just whining? Or are they pointing out actual flaws in your products? Give the chance to voice their concerns further, would they actually help you solve the problems they are complaining about?

http://www.socmedsean.com/social-media-comic-your-customers-are-not-the-enemy/


Well, here I go again, reminiscing about the good old days and taking a risk that I'll look like some old fart who's out of touch with technology, remembering back when companies actually hired someone to pick up the phone and were genuinely cheery and helpful, instead of the omnipresent voice menu option from a computer generated voice which, when it begins with "OK, to get started...." you just know you're in for a full afternoon of being trapped inside the ninth circle of voice menu hell, with the budget versions seem to be splitting each syllable into separate recordings which have then been pasted together and not too well by the way, complete with written-by-the-company's-online-attorney-service legal advance notification for third-party phone intervention:  "This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance. If you do not wish to be monitored or recorded, please let the attendant know." 

The attendant

We've all heard it so many thousands of times over the past ten years that no one really hears it any more, but I do often wonder if the "monitoring or recording" is 1) actually occurring, and 2) is the company doing it A) as a threat to their employees that they might get caught if they get nasty with the customer, or B) to really create a learning opportunity for the supervisors and line workers to have a two-way conversation about how customer service can be improved. 

Anyway, this came up for me this past week, as I was calling a specialty hardware store selling a particular and rare product I needed and upon asking for their hours, was simply told "Monday through Friday, 8-5."  And then, silence. 

No weekends, I clarified?

"No, thank God."

Um, thank you.

I thought about her comment the remainder of the day, first wondering if this is the manifestation of the company culture, one perhaps fertilized by the company owner him/herself, whereupon the customer is seen as, well, if not exactly the enemy, as those persons who must be kept in line and not allowed to step over it, lest anyone who is being given money by the customer have their work/life cart turned upside down. Fair enough, there's something to that I suppose, for upper management to ensure their workers have sufficient R and R.  But... No, thank God?  Something seemed amiss here.

Then I wondered if it could simply be the person on the phone herself, someone who's perhaps been asked to stay late once too often, and is now venting to anyone who will listen to her, in this case, the captive audience of the customer himself inquiring about weekend opportunities to give the company some of his money, so that, ultimately, one could say, she.... could keep her job?  Something to that, as well.

I've seen both of these underlying causes in service environments of all types, including our own domestic staff workplaces, with staff who treat their customers (read: principals) with a similar type of approach, thinking the principals are whining, and then feeling justified to display an attitude of "No, thank God" when given the opportunity to provide either more or better service to them.

Perhaps the quote at the beginning of this post could be altered to read:

If the general perception at your estate is that your employer is whining a lot, maybe you need to start listening to what they are complaining about. Is your employer really whining? Or are they pointing out actual flaws in your service delivery? Given the chance to voice their concerns further, would they actually help you solve the problems they are complaining about?

A common, and wholly inaccurate conception among many domestic staff is that their employers will advise them and let them know precisely when and how their service skills can improve. Not so. Because unlike companies with structured performance review systems in place, most estates are managed day-to-day on the fly, and quite a few domestic workers have found themselves suddenly out of work because service skill and behavioral deficiencies had built up to such a point where the employer found it simply easier to fire them instead of having an honest face to face discussion about performance expectations and delivery.

Thus, it becomes in such environments even more critical for the worker to become highly tuned in, to how they may perfect their skills and delivery, and, unlike the young lady
noted above, when an opportunity arises to provide better service to their employer... to adopt the mindset and action plan of,

Yes, thank God.

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