Friday, October 7, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): Do Your Employees Know What to Do?

It’s easy to tell which organizations put a premium on customer service and on their employees by how the latter responds to conflict—particularly conflict with customers.

Case in point: Last week I was somewhat irked by a drive-through bank teller who interrupted my transactions to have a lengthy chat with a customer in another lane. I understood her intentions were good (be friendly), but her chat took up my time, and later I realized she’d made a large mistake in logging a deposit amount (to my disadvantage!). When I returned the next day to have the error fixed, I pointed out this behavior to the bank manager.

Today I drove through again, and the usually friendly teller was noticeably more frosty—which I found interesting.

A well-trained employee would’ve known: (1) not to personalize the complaint; and (2) said something along the lines of, “Good morning, Ms. Ke! Listen, I talked with my manager about last week’s mistake and wanted to thank you for catching it. I’m sorry you had to come back again, but I promise it won’t happen again.” “Oh puh-lease,” you might say, “she’s human, she clearly has a right to be annoyed with you for complaining to her boss about her.”

Well, sure, but think about the messages being conveyed to the customer. By being curt, she comes off as petty, self-involved, and defensive. (Can such individuals be trusted with customer deposits?) If she’d tried option 2, she’d have radiated professionalism, warmth, and concern for the customer’s time.

I don’t like spending all my time in bank lines, so this individual had become a single point of contact for me where my bank is concerned—to me, she is the bank.

It could be a bank teller, a dry cleaning clerk, a receptionist, or a parking booth attendant. When conflict comes up, do your employees know how to react so you don’t wind up alienating customers?

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