I had the opportunity recently to watch one of the worst guest service experiences occur at a large electronic store. The customer ended up getting angrier by the minute and the sales associate looked as if she might explode. Although the guest was definitely wrong, the whole situation was handled poorly.
During the pursuit of my undergraduate degree, I remember teachers repeatedly telling me that one good guest service experience might earn you 3-5 new customers just from word of mouth. However, for every bad guest experience you could be sure that your unhappy customer would tell 6-10 others about it. Good new travels, but bad new spreads like an STD at a retirement home – rampant. Don’t believe me? Look it up. You would be amazed what is going on in those places. Oh, and the spreading of bad news theory has a few studies to back it up also.
People naturally want to share their bad experiences with others. In the case of a bad guest service experience, they feel like they can save others from having to go through the same torture. The distressing news is that it doesn’t stop there. That guest tells a friend, who tells another friend, who tells his accountant, who tells some clients, who tell more friends and the next thing you know the establishment is losing hundreds of customers.
Internally, companies operate in the same manner. If one employee has a bad experience with a member of their leadership team, everyone they come in contact with will be made aware of it. You can take out the water cooler, but it won’t stop employees from sharing the office gossip. I hear things every day from my team about managers working at other companies and why people should never work for them. All it takes is one bad experience or one unhappy employee for a all kinds of shenanigans to begin behind the scenes.The same guest service techniques that can be used towards your customers can also be applied internally with your staff. You want them to return again in the future, i.e. the next day for their scheduled shift. Creating a positive environment, open lines of communication and great experiences for them to reflect upon can help reach this goal.
I try to keep a positive environment by getting to really know my employees and taking a vested interest in how they do while working with my company. I encourage growth and help look for ways they can achieve it. We have fun at work and, while it boosts morale, it allows us to bring better service to our customers. Happy employees work differently then those with a grudge or feeling of disappointment.
My office is very centrally located. I have in the past been frustrated by the lack of privacy and inability to ever attain complete silence while working on time sensitive projects. However, I have learned to embrace my location and allow it to draw me closer to those working for me. The more I know about my staff, the better I can manage them. They know they can chat with me almost any time, and if I am not available at the moment, then I will make myself available to them as soon as possible.
There are days that are hard for my staff, and even some that get daunting. I try to keep things fresh and fun by throwing in surprises when possible. My direct staff tends to be younger and I keep that in mind when planning activities and surprises. Holiday’s happen throughout the year and by doing something, even if it is small, I break up the monotony of the day and interject a new twist on a daily task.
Remember your bad experience at the drive-through or the irritating cashier at your favorite store? I am sure you remember those just as well as the last bad experience you heard about from a colleague. If your name comes up amongst employees it should be because of a good experience. Keeping your team happy is the best reference you’ll need at their level and it ensures that they are keeping your customers happy in the same manner. Let your name spread positively like wildfire, minus the itching and burning sensation.