It amazes me how poor customer service is at many places where I do business. Employees will stop waiting on a customer to talk to someone who has called them on the phone. When you ask where some item is employees either don’t know or point in some general direction instead of taking you to the item. People arrive late for appointments. One night I stopped at a fast food restaurant and watched as my food was placed in front of the girl working the drive through window. She took a drink of her soft drink, opened the window and handed me my change, closed the window and took another drink before opening the window and handing me my drink, and then closed the window and took another drink before finally giving me my food. At that point I couldn’t help myself and told her that had to be the worse customer service I had seen in a long time. She was offended that I complained. She was probably even less happy when her manager made her write me an apology letter after I contacted the home office when I returned home. I used to stop there several times a year. I haven’t been back.
A Sunday school class in a church where I recently served as a Transitional Pastor gave me a gift card to a local restaurant. The restaurant had only been open a year or so, but I enjoyed eating there and stopped in two or three times a month. When I tried to use the gift card, my server could not get their POS machine to take it. After several attempts by her and other servers she called the owner and found out the restaurant had changed POS machines and there was a different way of entering it into the new one. She said she didn’t know how to do that. I paid for the meal.
A couple of weeks later I returned to try out my gift card again. The same thing happened. This time the server gave me the phone to talk to the owner. She was frustrated that I was upset! She said if I would wait there 15 minutes she would be in to take care of it. I explained I wasn’t waiting another 15 minutes and asked if I could just give the $25.00 gift card to the server to pay for my $12.00 lunch. Oh no, she couldn’t do that! That’s when I told her that this entire issue was due to her failure to properly train her workers. My server was standing there when I told the owner that I didn’t blame the workers, but I did blame her for her failure to train people. I explained very firmly that she had failed as a leader and an owner of a business, and as a result they had lost me as a customer. Their refusal to honor a $25.00 gift card cost them about $400.00 a year in sales. That might not seem like a lot of money, but I assure you that same lack of customer service has resulted in other customers not returning. A small business cannot take too many of those kinds of hits.
Whose fault is it when employees provide poor service? Once again I will repeat one of my favorite sayings: Everything rises and falls on leadership. For whatever reason, employees who provide poor customer service have no passion for what they do. They are there to earn a paycheck, and beyond that they are going through the motions doing the minimum that will keep that check coming. More often than not, that attitude comes from the top. When small business owners and managers lose their passion for what they are doing, that loss of passion filters down through the entire system. And that loss of passion costs the business money.
Passion for what you do must be a core value of the company if it wants to succeed. Passion will help your business rise to the top in your field. And believe me, it starts with the owner and managers. Passion is contagious and so is a lack of it. Your employees will do what they see you do so if you want them to approach their work with passion you need to as well.