Two Service Lessons from Trying to Buy a Pair of Jeans

Neat Stack of Blue JeansI walked into a store last weekend looking for a new pair of jeans.  Three young sales people were working.  All were busy sorting or tidying up.  One greeted me immediately with a warm smile and welcome, followed by an immediate offer of assistance. When I told her I was just browsing, she told me about their ‘Buy One, Get One 1/2 off” special and invited me to let her know if I had any questions.  Nice ….

As I browsed, all three sales people started talking to each other about their manager and the staff meeting that had been held within the last few days.  In a nutshell … the manager had let the team know she felt they didn’t treat her with respect and one had shot back “when you start treating us with respect, we’ll respect you”. Discussion around that juicy tidbit went on for a bit. Then one of the sale people said something like “and then I told her, I don’t get paid enough to put up with this”.

Even though I had already made the decision not to buy jeans there, I stuck around a little longer eavesdropping on the conversation. I venture to guess a lot of you have overheard similar conversations.  There is no question that their conversation was taking place in an entirely inappropriate place, but getting past that, I had to wonder …

What kind of coaching / supervisory training did the manager have?  Poor service and inappropriate conversations like this are very often caused by low morale.  How the team is led contributes to how the team feels about themselves, their contribution and their place of employment.  Too many supervisors are promoted because they are good at their job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to supervise people. Many times poor supervisors simply lack confidence and training and they become bossy and demanding, or they try to hard to be liked and have no authority, or perhaps even worse, they swing between the two extremes.  Whichever way they go, it is not good for team morale and productivity and service suffer. Train and coach the people on your team that are responsible for training and coaching others.

And then I thought to myself, none of the people working the floor that day knew who I was.  What if I was someone who was in a position to offer them a better job and they just blew it?  It happens. My son’s girlfriend, Kylie, worked retail for a number of years. There was a lady who regularly came into her store. One day she not only came in to buy some new clothes, she also came in to let Kylie that her company was looking to hire people, that Kylie should apply AND that she was in a position to highly recommend her. Kylie has been working at this new job now for just about a year and loves it.

So two lessons from this unsuccessful jean shopping excursion … train, coach and support the people who you expect to train, coach and support the front-line service team and two .. always remember to put your best service foot forward.

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