For example, a discount retailer mandates that attendants at their self service gas station leave their booths whenever a customer is pumping gas. On a recent visit at 6:00 am, with the temperature at 18 degrees, the attendant followed the company rule to the letter. No words exchanged; no value added by this “out of the booth” experience. Just pain and suffering for the associate.
As the economy has tightened, some customers have become unrealistic with their expectations. Delighting the customer is never easy, and in this economy where consumer spending is guarded even more challenging as “the customer is King” has been replaced with “the customer is God”.
At the same time, the associate serving those customers has been left in a state of constant anxiety over job loss, more work for the same pay, more hours and less pay per hour, and a soar tongue from biting down harder and with greater frequency.
Customer loyalty has been shunned, as the consumer trades value and service for lower cost and cheaper prices. In the meantime, the associate stays loyal, sometimes due to lack of jobs, but more often because of pride and dedication to their employer.
It’s time to rotate the business pyramid.
- Value your associate capital. Chances are you have let the low performers go and thus have your best staff at your side. Treat them as an asset that needs to be nurtured. Don’t be so manically customer focused that you lose sight of your teammates.
- Maintain a healthy balance. Without a healthy and vibrant workforce, we will never be able to delight the customer. Be razor sharp in taking sides. Associates need to understand the rationale for irrational customer concessions and that theyare not the ones who will pay the price.
- Reward your associates equally with customers. Cash is tight, and whatever you do have is going to customer acquisition, service or promotions. Associates understand that, as long as you are willing to recognize their accomplishments with sometime as simple as a congratulatory letter on their contributions.