Managing Employees

Does Your Staff Smile Enough?

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

That sour-faced sales rep isn't doing your company any favors. Unfriendly seeming staff account for a lot of client fall away. Are your staff members long-faced?

Do you remember the last time you were served by someone with a miserable couldn't-care-less attitude?

Sure you remember it because on some level you found it mildly insulting and slightly depressing. You're there spending your hard earned money and you're being treated almost like an inconvenience.

Even if you didn't take any action like writing to the company to complain about the sales assistant's approach you probably made a mental note not to buy from them again. The experience was unpleasant and that creates an immediate incongruity. Spending money, unless it's paying bills, is generally meant to be as pleasant an experience as possible. A misery guts taking your cash and unenthusiastically shoving a bag of products at you does not achieve anything remotely pleasing. It's a downer.

If you felt that way when you last had to deal with a rude waitress or an unresponsive or unhelpful salesperson how would you expect your customers to feel if they were treated the same way?

The problem is that many of us, when we've been gotten poor or unfriendly service don't bother to report it. We do what is mentioned above, we don't go back to that store or restaurant. The company loses out loyalty.

This means that you, as the owner of the company, may not know that customer fall away is due to poor staffing.

How can you rectify this?

Include customer satisfaction questions on your bags or packaging, menus or website. Consider the following kinds of approaches:

  • Thank you for shopping with us. Was your experience a good one?
  • Let us know what you thought of our service.
  • Have worries? Please let us know. We are always striving to improve our services.

By offering prompts of this kind you encourage customer feedback. And that's invaluable.

Undercover customers

Many retailers use decoy shoppers who go in store to assess how good there service is. This works far better than you yourself going on site, because when you're there of course everyone will be on their best behavior so you won't get an accurate view of how things run when you are absent.

Having said that, let's go the contradictory route and suggest that you do make appearances on site. But turn up unannounced. That way you get to see what's really going down in your establishment. Also, if your staff become accustomed to you dropping by they'll be more likely to keep their performance standards high, just in case.

Ask yourself why your staff are coming across as miserable. Is there anything you can do to make them happier? Are their work conditions and pay good enough? Do they get enough breaks? Do they feel appreciated? When was the last time you thanked them for their efforts? Remember, good manners breed good manners.

Your staff are the grass roots face of your company, they are who your customers deal with and who they associate your brand with. Sometimes it will simply be that a member of staff is irretrievably down in the mouth as a character. In other cases, personal troubles or other worries may be causing the problem. If there's anything you can do to help, then do it, after all, in doing so you're helping yourself and your business.

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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