What are your employees doing when you’re not looking?
That’s a question that plagues most of the business owners and leaders I know.
How are they interacting with customers?
Are they ensuring a positive experience, or more focused on their own agenda?
The answer is, it depends.
I recently stopped by our local Home Depot on the weekend to pick up a few things.
It was early, likely around 7:30 a.m. when I arrived, and since there were only a few people in the store, the checkout line was short with just one person ahead of me.
However, it still took over five minutes for me to reach the checkout even though the person ahead of me only had a couple of items to pay for.
What Was Going On?
I couldn’t help but look toward the cashier, trying to figure out why there was such a long wait considering it should only have been a couple of minutes.
What I noticed shocked me.
She was staring down to the left of the register.
I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what she was doing until I reached the checkout myself.
Should Be Helping Customers – Instead, She Was Glued to Her Cellphone
There were a couple of reasons why this surprised me.
First off, it was still quite early in the day.
There was very little happening and her focus on her phone while customers waited stood out.
Possibly this was why she seemed so focused on checking and responding to text messages rather than trying to move customers through the checkout.
More surprisingly, however, was her age.
She was not a teenager or even in her early twenties.
I’d put the cashier at over fifty years old, which blows away any preconceived notions around today’s younger employees being distracted by cell phones.
The question, however, that stood out in my mind was: How could someone in such a public-facing role be so disengaged with customers?
I mean, really, how many customers will she serve today that will think:
“Wow, they certainly don’t care about helping customers here!”
If you believe in the power of social media, then I think you’d agree that one poor customer service experience such as this, in the hands of someone who is comfortable complaining on social media, can go viral!
What if this were your business?
Worse yet, what are your employees doing when you’re not looking?
Not Good for Business
So to turn this around.
The obvious question is: When you can’t spend every moment watching every employee, what should you do?
I’m guessing that at Home Depot there are policies against employees using their cell phones while working, and it’s possible (however unlikely) that this employee was actually texting someone at work, for work purposes.
However, it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t quite understand the impression her actions give customers.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.
Business owners need to do three things in order to ensure consistently positive and powerful customer experiences:
- Shop your business. Know what experiences your customers are having by being a customer yourself. The more you know, the better position you are in to understand exactly the difference between the experience your customers want and what they are actually getting.
- Align your employees. Sharing your customers’ feedback and secret shopping experiences with employees can help them understand the influence their actions have, or can have. Creating positive customer experiences starts with your employees recognizing how their every action influences your customers.
- Empower your employees. Your employees need to have the ability and authority to support your customers. This means confronting employees who are doing something that distracts from a positive customer experience. There can be no tolerance for being anything but customer-centric.
Fortunately, this experience hasn’t dissuaded me from being a fan of Home Depot.
I’ve had plenty of positive experiences that far outweigh this one.
But on the other hand, if this is happening in your business, wouldn’t you want to know?
Ask yourself, what are your employees doing when you’re not looking?
© Shawn Casemore 2019. All Rights Reserved.