Keeping your promises is essential. This might seem obvious, but organizations fail at it every day because they don’t have system that makes it possible. They often depend on employees to figure out how juggle the regular service required within their role while saying yes to little customer whims that are out of the scope of the norm. Teaching them to say yes is a fantastic idea, but without a secure process to help them follow through it can backfire miserably.
I had to stop by a well-known cosmetics, fragrance, and beauty store last night to find myself a new hair product because I ran out of my favorite and then found that it had been discontinued. Ugh. One of roughly 3 shoppers in the store, the other customers and I were actually outnumbered by the employees. I walked to the back of the store where the products were organized by brand in 6 (yes 6!) full rows. I was looking for descriptions similar to my old one when an employee stopped and asked if she could help me. I was so grateful that someone was going to rescue me from this little hell I’d found until I realized she knew about as much about the products as I did.
To her credit, she called on her headset to a coworker to help find something that would suit me, but her coworker never responded. She then said she’d go find someone and ask while I continued to look around. Unfortunately, after 10 minutes had passed and I was not approached by her or another associate for help, I felt ignored and walked out. On my way I passed 4 associates socializing, including the one who said she’d return with help. Clearly no one had prepared this young woman with the product knowledge to help me or the process to find someone who could. Too bad for them; I’m spendy on my hair. Set up for success and avoid this hiccup by considering these three thoughts from someone who has failed at it, done it right, and been the customer of both:
- Make sure following through is a priority throughout the organization. It is not enough to presume that staff, at any level, consider the significance of this unless it is an explicit part of the organization’s customer service plan and values.
- Make sure there is an operational plan that supports follow through for your customer facing employees. Maybe they have promised to return a call or email a customer a receipt – or maybe a customer is patiently awaiting your attention; it could be anything. As they continue to help customers the promises can be forgotten or reprioritized which reflects poorly on the employee and the organization.
- Under promise and over-deliver. Nuff said.
What do you do to make sure promises are kept and follow through is a priority?