It’s not WHAT you Give Customers. It’s HOW YOU TREAT THEM
Visitors to your business may rave about your products. They may love your prices. They might just come because of your convenience and store hours. However these are all things that you give them – things that usually be offered equally by a competitor. What is harder to replicate is HOW you treat those visitors. Do you show your guests “WE CARE”?
A Noticeable Lapse of a Warm Welcome
There are a handful of outlets of the world’s biggest coffee shop chain in and around my hometown, and I visit one of them almost daily. It suits my needs perfectly – I get a fresh cup of coffee, the Wifi works, the atmosphere is pleasant, and the refills are free for ‘VIP customers’.
I saw an interesting occurrence at one of these Starbucks a few weeks ago, though, that was eye-opening. Now it was a small and perhaps insignificant thing, and certainly nowhere near the gravitas of the awkwardly-handled situation at one of its Philadelphia store last year, but it was not the positive reflection of a warm and caring place.
A young woman came in after me and she ordered a drink. After getting it, she stood loitering around the counter. It was clear to see that she looked a little unsettled as she stood there holding her drink in one hand and a folder in the other. It didn’t take much to recognize that she was in the store for a job interview. After a period bit and a bit shyly, she stepped forward to the counter again and asked the Partner whether the manager was there. She was told, entirely without feeling, “Yes, she’s in the back. What’s your name?”
The Company SOP May Not Be Enough
Yes, the Partner at the counter did the right thing in asking the young woman’s name. But it is more what she didn’t do that for the guest that was so glaring an omission. I was a customer myself, yet the situation was obvious. This young lady was dressed neatly, she was holding a manila folder, she looked a bit nervous, and she was clearly wanting to ask someone where to wait or how to announce her arrival (to the manager) for her scheduled appointment. Now some may say she should have been more assertive or display more confidence, but she was a teenager, perhaps applying for her first job and at her first job interview. She may have been nervous and intimidated about how she might match up to others already working for her favorite brand.
Responsibilities of a Manager – Share Information with the Team
Ideally all the staff would have been briefed that someone was coming in to interview this morning, and this Partner would have immediately recognized this young woman’s mannerism, noted the time, and put two and two together. She should have right away asked: “Are you (her name)? You’re here to talk with (the name of the manager), right?”
Moments of Truth – They Occur Everywhere
What a way to connect and Make a Positive Impression!…. Think of the reaction of the job candidate to the Partner smiling and saying, “I know who you are, and I know why you are here. I’m happy to see you and excited you want to work here, too”.
Ideally there would have been an established protocol to get the interviewee settled – get her a drink, invite her to sit down, and make her feel welcome. (Maybe) it might be helpful to point out where the restrooms are, where the electric plugs are to charge up her phone, or even ask her if she is hungry… (What’s the gained value from giving away a cookie?). The goal is to show her the feeling the friendliness in the store, and the warmth of the team working there. Interestingly another partner walked past on her way to do some maintenance tasks at the condiment bar and tables, but she made no effort to acknowledge this candidate, who might be working alongside them shortly. There were two or three chances in this one event that could have reinforced this potential worker that she made the right choice to want to work here. They were lost…………..
Stating “We Care” may be in the Company Mission, BUT…………
From the beginning, Starbucks set out to be a different kind of company. One that not only celebrated coffee and the rich tradition, but that also brought a feeling of connection. Their mission states so: Our mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time. Here was a marvelous chance to reinforce that feeling and mission with someone else – a customer and potentially new employee no less. Yet here was an opportunity missed.
Showing “You Care” must become a Daily Mission
Ideally employees are hired for a role for reasons beyond experience. Starbucks, in fact, clearly states “no experience required” for working in their stores. Similarly, there are many companies in the QSR space that focus on character and talent profile over (teachable) skills and knowledge. That being said, it is easy for employees to lose sight of the bigger picture of the business as they get absorbed in the day-to-day tasks of their jobs. It is important to constantly be reminding staff about the impact that they can have on visitors to the restaurant through their behavior, and that they should all be ever on the lookout for ways to positively impact the Moments of Truth. To that end, Managers should be coaching and mentoring their team on the importance of showing they care:
- Assume that even though it is stated in the Company Mission, not everyone on the team may understand fully what “Customer Care” means. Furthermore, the words may not mean the same thing to every staff.
- Make the topic of Moments of Truth and Customer Care a constant theme of discussion at Team Meetings.
- Focus on desired outcome (“Show we Care”) not on the desired behavior (“Do it like this……….”.
- Managers and all employees should constantly be looking for “things done right” among the team, and that behavior should be recognized and acknowledged.
Showing “You Care” can have a Long-term Impact
I never found out if this young woman was offered (or took) a job with Starbucks. Perhaps she wasn’t the right fit, or maybe the proposed work couldn’t work for her. On the other hand, maybe she was exactly the type of worker the company is looking for – warm, caring, friendly, BUT she turned them down as she didn’t want to work there. It wasn’t ‘her kind of place”……. They showed her that they didn’t care. While she was visiting the store as a potential employee, she is foremost a customer, and the Partners’ unemotional and indifferent has likely left an impression on her. Perhaps she chooses in future to purposely avoid going to the store. Perhaps she now regularly speaks negatively of the experience and the branch to friends and family. Perhaps she (in the extreme) never frequents a Starbucks store again! Why?
All because she team fails to show this customer that “We care”.
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