And Finally …. Waffling Walter

It’s very seldom the responsibility for customer service problems lies with just one person.  It’s easy to blame the front-line person, the person whose name is mentioned in the complaint.

That’s how the Horrible Harry’s of this world (meet him here if you haven’t yet met him) deal with those moments. They blame their staff, instead of stepping back and asking “Am I providing my team with the tools, the training and the on-going support they need in order to be successful?”

But, just because Horrible Harry is a less than stellar example of what a good supervisor looks like, it’s not all Horrible Harry’s fault that service and morale are low. That’s because Horrible Harry reports to Harried Harriet (Ok … I’d love to help you meet her if you haven’t yet, but try as I might, the direct link does not work.  If you want to meet her, visit my blog page and scroll down to “Introducing Harried Harriet” post.). Harried Harriet knows that Horrible Harry’s management style is not working, but she is just too busy to deal with it.  Does that mean all the responsibility lies with Harried Harriet?  Why no … it doesn’t.  Waffling Walter also plays a part.

Harried Harriet has put together numerous reports and recommendations, detailing the challenges and suggesting potential solutions and then submitted those reports and recommendations to Waffling Walter.  But nothing seems to ever leave Waffling Walter’s desk with a definitive “yes” or “no” stamp.

Waffling Walter takes days, sometimes weeks, to respond to requests. When he finally does get around to it, it is generally with vague questions or comments like “we will take that under advisement and get back to you”.  Waffling Walter likes the word “we”, not because it’s an inclusive word, but because the word “we” means he’s not the one who will be held accountable. The phrase “the buck stops here” has no meaning to Waffling Walter.

Another way Waffling Walter puts off having to make a decision is by sending Harried Harriet’s reports back, over and over again, asking for further detail, study, examples, scenarios, etc, etc, etc.  No wonder Harried Harriet is having difficulty finding the time to work with Horrible Harry and coach him to becoming a better manager.

The sad thing is, Waffling Walter also sees the negative customer comments and he wants to know why and what will be done to resolve them. That’s more emails and phone calls for Harried Harriet to deal with.

Poor customer service is rarely the fault of just one person.  It’s easy to point fingers and say “if I had or if they did, then I could”, but that means giving away control of the best you can be, in this situation, right now.  It’s when everyone takes ownership of their role in the entire customer service process that positive results happen.   Sometimes, sadly, when others don’t take ownership of their role, the ones that do move on, leaving behind the ones that say “if only”. That’s not good for business.

Excellent customer service, delivered consistently, needs a whole team of committed individuals working together, helping and supporting each other internally. When that happens, negative customer comments decrease and employee morale increases.  That is good for business.


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