Inspect What You Expect

While it is an old adage from management development training, managers should always be “inspecting the work environment for what they expect to happen.”  Nothing seems to be left to chance more often these days than Customer Service.

Have you noticed that the people you interact with at the market, bank or retail store these days are either very into making you feel like a valuable person, or they hardly acknowledge you are there at all?  I am always on the lookout for friendly and service focused people, and I make it a point to go and talk with a manager when I find one of these top-notch people.

Sadly I spend little time seeking out managers, because the level of service is so poor overall.  And yet this past week while shopping at PetSmart, I was impressed with a technique used to check out my cart load of cat food cans quickly.  I commented to this guy that he should share it with others as it makes the checkout process easier for the customer.  He smiled, thanked me for noticing, and said he would.  He made my day, and I appeared to make his.

So I sought out the manager.  I told her about my experience, his very positive response, and she replied, “really?”  I elaborated, and she just said, “okay” and walked away.  Wow, she was so unimpressed with a staff member, and yet she is the ultimate person in this store responsible for the customer experience.  I was left with the impression I had wasted her time, that she was flabbergasted that this guy was any good, and was not going to do or say anything after parting ways with me.

If she takes the time to inspect and catch people doing things right, it was not apparent, because this particular employee is always outgoing and pleasant to people.  In fact most of the check out staff is this way, but I am left wondering if she knows it.  How lucky she is to have this kind of staff, and how her competition could benefit if they could hire them away.

So when you are out there looking to catch your employees demonstrating desired behaviors, don’t be stingy with the compliments.  And when you find things happening that are not as you expect, make sure to address them with the employee soon, but always in private.


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