By Frank Kenna
Who trains some of these employees anyway? Maybe it’s because I’m in the business of workplace communications that I notice these things, but when I deal with employees from other companies, I get really bugged by some of the stuff I experience.
First on my list is retail employees. I walk into a store looking for an item. An employee asks me if I need help finding an item, so I say what I’m looking for. And I hear, “If we had it, it would be over there,” gesturing vaguely to some aisle about ¼ mile away. Gee, thanks, that was helpful. “If we had it”? Don’t you work here? Then why don’t you know what you sell? How about putting away your phone for a few minutes and actually finding out if you sell it? C’mon retail managers; train your employees to know your stock and how to find stuff!
Number 2 on my list is customer support workers on the phone. Here’s a typical example. My cable TV service is not working correctly. I call the cable company to get it fixed, and after 15 minutes of trying, they can’t figure it out – they send a refresh signal, say to give it 40-60 minutes to correct itself, tell me to try unplugging the box and plugging it back in, yadda, yadda. I’m about to hang up when she says, “Is there any other way I can help you today?” I want to yell into the phone, “YES, FIX THE PROBLEM I ORIGINALLY CALLED ABOUT.” But I’m too polite and just say no and hang up. Obviously she was following her script, but how about a little flexibility? In this situation it would have been much better to say, “I’m sorry I couldn’t resolve your problem. Hopefully the ideas I gave to you will help. Thank you for calling.” Does she actually think I’d call her if I had any other problems?
And for #3, I’m going to stick with telephone customer support. I call with a problem I’m having and they successfully resolve it. And then THEY start asking ME questions. Have I thought about extending my subscription? Are there other family members who could use the same product? Would I like the gold-plated warranty? And on and on. I’ve literally had to hang up on some of these types, changing what was a good customer service experience into never wanting to call them again.
These workplace communications experiences are easily improved with just a bit of forethought and training. All three are opportunities for a company to embrace and engage customers… not drive them away.