When one thinks of great customer service, companies like Zappos, Nordstrom’s and Disney come to mind. What they all have in common is a full focus on serving the customer at an extremely high level. Their employees are trained to be aware when a customer may have a question or concern so they can fix the situation. Now on the flip side, we have all experienced employees who have not been trained this way and are allowed to exhibit the worst personal skill in my opinion: indifference.
Let me explain a situation I encountered and then what you can do to avoid this potential “indifference” in your own staff.
I was in Las Vegas for a digital marketing conference and had a little time before meeting some people at an event that night. I was alone so I thought I would just have a quick bite to eat before heading over. I came to the restaurant Japonais in the Mirage Hotel. As I approached, their sign said “ one of the top restaurants in the world”. I wanted to get in and out and it did not look that busy. There was no host at the entry stand so I went to the bar and sat down. The bartender brought over a menu and I ordered a salad and 2 sushi rolls. Nothing too complex I thought. To my surprise it took over 25 minutes to get the salad.
As the bartender dropped off the salad he never mentioned he was sorry for the delay, nor did he even notice that I was waiting. He was too busy telling stories to a group of young drinkers at the end of the bar. Now after my salad was cleared, time dragged on and I sat there for another 25 minutes and no food. I had to ask the bartender where my food was and he said, ”Oh they must be backed up”.
You would think he would go check for my food but no he just went back to his side of the bar. Finally I had enough and told him I had to leave seeing as no food was coming. Again one would expect he would try to see how to keep me there, go check on my food but no, all he did was go get my check and put it down. Never apologized. Just said, “Have a good night” as he does to everyone.
I then went to the manager and guess what, there was no manger to be found. The hostess had a look of confusion when I asked to see a manager. Her response was, “I have to stay at my station”. So as I walked away annoyed at wasting my time but more because of the indifference of the bartender. As if he felt that because he was in a casino, people would always be coming into the restaurant so giving poor service is not a big deal. He obviously has not been trained to care about what he does and it was obvious that no one is checking his work. You can see finger pointing is part of the daily routine because his response, “they must be backed up” was a way to say, “I did my job”.
Three things to help you avoid these pitfalls
- Train your team on what level of service you expect and follow up to make sure it is being executed. As we saw here, there seemed to be a basic sense of just doing tasks. No one took service personally and no one was afraid of underperforming. They seemed comforted knowing that management was not inspecting their work.
- Empower all employees to take it upon themselves to find a solution. As we saw here, no one felt they could move out of their “job” or “silo” to solve a problem. This bartender seemed to only want to do his part, (put in the order) and then wash his hands of any further work to ensure the customer is satisfied.
- Make sure that upper management is aware of an issue. As we saw here, no one wanted to bring up the fact that they had an upset customer. They would rather hide in their silo and hope no one noticed. Make sure that NOT telling you there is a problem is worse for them that having the problem to begin with.
Business leaders have a choice, either you make sure your company has the drive and purpose to deliver excellence for your customers or else your employee’s indifference will drive your customers down the block to your competitors