Every company has its problems but should your customers be the victims of oversharing?
As frequent readers know, my home state of Florida suffers from a lot of road debris, which means a certain amount of flat tires. I recently discovered a nail in one of my tires and went to my nearby tire merchant for some repairs.
While I was the only customer at the place (the chain we’ll call, “Round Rubber Royalty”), it seemed like it was taking a while to look up my tire history and give me an estimate on the repairs. While I didn’t say anything about the slow service, the clerk volunteered some information.
“We just got a new computer system,” he said. “It freezes up a lot.”
My reply was a simple, “Oh really,” but that was enough to open the floodgates.
“And nobody knows how to use it,” another clerk eagerly added. “Even our IT Department. They were never trained on it so they don’t know what to tell us when we call for help.”
“The big change they (meaning the big bosses, I assume) wanted was for the monitor to be able to swivel, so our customers could see what’s on the screen,” the first one said while laughing. “So now, we can swivel the monitor to show the customer that the screen is frozen.”
I nodded and waited for my critically damaged tire to be replaced. During this time, I thought what I had learned from this classic case of oversharing information about an organization’s shortcomings. It’s obvious that this company is being blocked by several obstacles. Here are some ways they can Clear the Path of these problems:
Loose Tongues Do Not Inspire Confidence: If something is wrong with the computers, apologize and move on. It’s rare that someone wants to know the history of the device, especially when it’s bad news.
You’ll get extra credit if, when you mention a problem, you also say what’s being done to find a solution. The customer wants results, not a chance to hear what’s wrong with your process.
It’s Them Versus Us:Your company culture may be totally dysfunctional but do I need to know this? People expect an organization to function appropriately. Would you want to go to a restaurant where the chef throws meat cleavers at the hostess?
From my tire experience, there seemed to be a lack of communication between those who think up ideas and the ones who implement them. Make sure these people are on the same page.
Be Relentless In Pursuit of Solutions The thing that was disturbing about my experience was that an ongoing problem was accepted. Fixing a problem should be everyone’s priority and part of every position.
If you are a front line employee, tell your supervisor. If nothing happens, tell him or her again. Yes, you may become annoying but in the big picture, is it better for the supervisor to be annoyed or the customer?
If you are a branch manager and the corporate office isn’t listening to you, then change your pitch. It’s one thing to say that the computers are not working. It’s another to explain how much the problem is affecting customers. Quantify how long the sales process is being delayed and if you think any business is being lost. Make the problem, real, from a dollars and cents perspective.
Bottom Line: People don’t pay you for your problems.