No one knows the experience of a service or product better than the buyer who just purchased. Today it is common to allow the customer the option to fill out a follow-up survey after a purchase. Business may offer an incentive to customers if they provide feedback. While businesses receive all kinds of feedback, negative feedback can be the most valuable to a business. Rather than seeing this as an attack, they can use this information to improve their business. It can bring to the forefront problems they were unaware of that need to be addressed which can identify destructive factors or help increase revenue.
Customer feedback is shared online, through email, telephone, and on forums. It is important to respond to feedback and especially negative feedback as soon as possible. Customers need to know they are heard. Generally, those customers who are submitting feedback ‘offstage’, through email or phone, are seeking the chance to vent, are searching for answers, and want resolution. Those submitting comments ‘on-stage’ are wanting to also be heard, but are looking for an audience to share their complaint publicly to. Responding with a short reply of empathy and assurance followed by an offer to further discuss by phone, is the best way to handle onstage communicators. By taking these public posts offline with a phone call, businesses can further address an issue and handle concerns.
While most corporate level representatives provide customer service placing value on the customer, such is not the case in many retail environments. Retail employees have brought the culture of ‘me-ism’ to the workspace. Rather than fostering a basic level of respect, gossip spreading about customers and insults to customers are common. Bending over for the customer is unheard of most of the time. Repeat customers who should be valued are shunned with propaganda fed in by people outside the business. If approached about this, associates deny what was just said. Ethics standards are not upheld by managers. The employees stay employed with very little correction.
One has to think what is really being marketed. Why do customers not see this as tarnish to the reputation of the business doing this? Who would want to continue to shop at a store where employees are rumor and gossip hounds trying to gain popularity for their store by damaging the reputation of someone? This should be discouraged. It adds to the digression of our culture, affects business standards, besides just not being kind. Are there really this many ill-informed minds in retail? Yes. Without correcting it, it will worsen. The best solution is to fire these types and have stronger management.
If management is unethical and allows unethical practices, the business will be unethical in all kinds of matters. It may yield short term success, but is guaranteed failure over time. It is overdue that corporate gets involved in cleaning up the politeness and respectfulness in stores by enforcing it. Without valued customers, the business would not exist. Although retail stores may not offer the big bucks, most pay high enough to expect politeness and appropriateness from employees. After all, it is a job, not an inconvenience to the employee to be employed and receive a check.
If retail employees may be bored and feel the need to gossip, then give them more work. If they are angry at their position, then reiterate that this is what they agreed to, or the door. Managers need to be more firm with employees who are destructing their front line. There are plenty of people ready to replace them. By hiring more polite, trained, part-time employees as backup to replace them, quality can exist and the trash taken out. Regardless, clean up is needed. There is a lack of accountability that exists from keeping employees who are impolite and damaging to the business. Training programs on customers service are built into many businesses, but if they aren’t enforced, they are useless. Being able to hire employees who truly believe in the value of customer service, is hard to accurately screen for, but managers should be able to identify if an employee is using their position in a damaging way. Those who place business matters first, are of value to the company and help build business with happy customers.
This applies to those in corporate environments as well. There is a need to enforce a greater level of respect in any workplace. A culture of kindness and respectfulness breeds a positive work environment, higher productivity, and business success. Letting rudeness become the standard should be frowned upon. It is everyone’s business to clean this up, not necessarily all the time through verbal correction, but through example. Each person is in essence their own business too. If we all maintained our business at a higher standard, what a better place it would be for everyone.
View these books online! Shop Amazon!
Play Nice: Playground Rules for Respect in the Workplace (The Sandbox)
by Brigitte Gawenda Kimichik JD and J. R. Tomlinson
Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace
by Christine Porath
Team Building: Proven Strategies for Improving Team Performance
by W. Gibb Dyer Jr., Jeffrey H. Dyer, et al.