with all due respect
September 6, 2007 12 Comments
I will try not to give away the name of the company in the attempt to protect your decision to continue shopping there, if need be. So please understand that if I use the words “home improvement”, “orange apron”, or “The Depot”; it is out of coincidence, and in no way am I trying to give away the fact that I worked for Home Depot for 12 plus years in store management.
With that (not) being said…
Have you noticed that the only people that think you can actually find “excellence in customer service” in these stores are the Depot employees that don’t actually have to perform the service? You know what I mean, don’t you? There are a slew of big shots (that don’t wear the orange aprons with their name Sharpied on them), sitting in a huge conference room (with those cool leather chairs with the gold buttons on them) writing a Standard Operating Procedure (that makes The Bible look like a 2 point AR book) for “helping another human being” figure out where the light bulbs are located in the store.
So, the big orange box “big wigs” discuss, write, and distribute the “sure fire way” to ensure their associates are prepared to make sweet love to their customers. They set it up as a one-size-fits-all scenario so that even the most “personality challenged” person can tantalize a customer with a barrage of warmth and concern. Then they drill it in their heads all day long. They post signs in the overused breakroom to remind them, make them watch videos explaining it, and have them attend meetings, on their days off, to reiterate it. They explain the consequences for not following the rules and they “make an example” of a few employees to show that they are serious.
Then they follow the associates around like a Gestapo, trying to catch them doing something WRONG so they can exercise swift disciplinary action.
So how could it be that the service levels are so poor these days? Why is it that this company has become so pitiful at doing something that is so simple? What are they doing wrong?
I’m glad you asked…
First of all; one size NEVER fits all. Each customer and associate is an individual, just like each situation is unique. There are different moods, terms, and expectations to each interaction. You can’t create a good assortment of cookies with only one cookie cutter.
Second; if they trained more effectively, there would be less need to drill it into their heads all day long. They need to create “buy in” as opposed to “grind in”. We could all agree that if our bedroom was set beside a train track; we would eventually learn to “block out” the sound or find something to drown it out a bit so that we could get back to sleep. Kind like what we do to a nagging boss.
Finally; they seem to not trust or respect their associates. They assume that if they leave it up to the employees to decide what to do, when it comes to servicing the customers, they will choose to do the wrong things. They don’t have confidence in their decision making abilities and they are have no patience to allow for a learning curve. So they drill and drill and drill in the message, and the direction loses its meaning and its influence.
If you have kids, this may sound familiar.
How many of us parents think that we have the one-size-fits-all answers to the scenarios that require our children to make decisions? What steps did we take to properly train them for what life will present them? Do we respect them enough to trust that they CAN make the right decision? Can we shut up long enough to give them a chance to prove that they can do things on their own? Did we provide them with the right tools to get the job done. Are the expectations realistic, or are we looking at it from a “conference table” point of view?
Here’s the real kicker…
What if, by giving them this ultimate permission, we actually found out that their way was more effective? What if they were able to produce the desired effect, ten fold? What if we actually became better managers due to their example? What if our orange box was a better place to shop because our kids were driven to make it so in appreciation for the love, honor, and respect we showed them as their boss?
I say that good parenting has less to do with rule making and implementation and more to do with permission giving and preparation. Your household should be set up so that your children understand that it is ok to try and fail, as long as you try with good intentions. Then, you can follow your kids around; trying to catch them doing something RIGHT, so you can be swift to praise them for their good judgment.
Teach them how to make decisions that are honest, ethical, and moral; and then do yourself a favor and get the heck out of their way.
If they need your help… believe me, they will ask for it.