Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Today I Realized I Can be a Pain in the...

Good customer service is extremely important to us.
I can't count how many times Jeff and Jason have gone way out of their way for a customer.
They'll go in at crazy hours for a drop off.
Drive someone across town.
Spend hours sourcing just the right parts.
Jeff has even been known to respond to texts at dinnertime {shocking, I know}.
If we get a request that seems off the wall we do what we can to make it happen.
And it's not just the owners, we have some amazing employees {and past employees} who work so hard and take as much pride in our work and joy in our successes as we do.

This is not intended to be a big old pat on the back.
I am aware of many other businesses of the same mind.
But lately I'm wondering why this doesn't seem to be the standard anymore.

For years, we've made excuses such as "it's Alberta and good help is hard to find."
I'm not pretending I have the answer, we've had a lot of staff turn over.
Sometimes we know immediately that someone doesn't care about the job.
We just don't accept that attitude. 
But is it now rare that we don't accept this?

The trigger for this post is two fold.
Just last week I was chatting with some friends about how there seems to be a lack of initiative among many workers.
One of them told a story about how her husband was at a coffee shop and asked for a dark roast.
The barista replied that they were out of dark roast.
He then proceeded to turn around and point to the shelf behind him stuffed with, you guessed it, dark roast.
Well today we were doing our weekly grocery shopping.
I've mentioned before that getting a cookie at the end of our shopping trip is a big perk for my kids.
When we went to get said cookie she replied that they didn't have any cookies to give.

Now I would like to say that I know we are in no way entitled to a cookie.
 My kids will be fine without a cookie.
I so appreciate that the store provides the kids with free cookies and it is a great example of good customer service.
I have also mentioned in the past that I want my kids to know that they can trust the information I give them.
It breaks my heart if I set an expectation for them and can't follow through with it.
For all of you out there thinking that they will need to learn that you can't always get what you want, I don't disagree.  
My kids however are toddlers and have plenty of opportunities to learn this and...well...they're toddlers.

Back to our shopping trip.
In the past I may have simply said "ok" and moved along.
But as I get older I find that I care less about the judgement others might have of me and more about accountability and responsibilities.
And I think that if you put out a sign that says you offer a service, you are responsible to provide that service.
So instead I said "Can I ask why?".
She replied that the shipment hadn't arrived when ordered.
They had been out for two days and had been sending kids away empty handed.
I said "In that case you wouldn't just open a different type of cookie?"
The assistant manager overheard and said that they had to follow policies so that wasn't possible.
I said "I don't mean to be a pest and we really appreciate that this isn't something your company needs to do but I have just told my kids they would receive a treat so it's disappointing."
And you know what?  
They agreed.
They opened a box of the chocolate chip cookies with M&Ms on top and the kids were thrilled.
The kids got an extra special treat but I think I was even happier that them.
Those employees may have called me names after I walked away but I felt in a way that I made a very little breakthrough.
I know policies are necessary and do need to be followed.  They're not, however, in place to prevent good customer service.
Don't employers want staff to that take initiative, think outside the box and make their patrons happy?
I know we do.

And really, do they have a detailed cookie policy? 
Seems excessive no?

I also understand that some people don't love the job they're doing and maybe aren't paid fabulously.
But what is the worst thing that could happen from putting in more effort?
In fact, you would most likely get more job satisfaction from your mind-numbing-minimum-wage job.
You're there either way, why not make the best of it?

If nothing else, I guess the next 10 kids will get a cookie instead of being turned away like the past 2 days worth.

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