- Rhett Parsons
The last installment of our blog focused on empowering your team to make decisions that are best for the customer, even if sometimes they are not exactly inline with your policies. That leads us to another major area where front line team members often let policies hinder good service. There seems to be a common situation when a team member “drips” information to a customer on an as needed basis. Rather than providing the customer with all the information up-front, they share information with an attitude of “I will tell you when I think you need to know”. This is a poor way to treat a valuable customer and only leads to frustration. One of the best (or worst) personal examples of this is a little complex but I’ll try my best to explain.
We live in a great community that offers memberships for racket sports, pools, beach access, etc. This works great because you can join and pay for what you like. Last August (the Friday before Labor Day to be precise, the 31st), I stopped in the community center office to buy our racket sports membership. My wife and I wanted to play Platform Tennis and Pickleball (yes, it is a real sport) and I also play tennis. I asked the woman at the desk what we needed in order to prove our residency in the community since we are leasing. I also asked if they would prorate the membership since it had an April start date and we were almost in September. She said to bring a copy of our lease and that yes, they would prorate it, so off I went to get the needed paperwork.
When I returned later that afternoon with my lease and my airline credit card (always trying to earn those miles) I went to the same person that I had spoken with an hour earlier. We started doing the paperwork and she informed me that the prorated amount would include the entire month of August even though there were less than 12 hours left in the month. The woman helping me simply said “that is our policy”. This is a great example of someone who was not given the training to look at the situation and make a commonsense decision to go against policy. However, this is also prime example of “dripping” information because she could have told me this during my first visit.
I certainly was not going to pay for 31 days of a membership for less than 12 hours of use. So, I decided to forgo a great weekend on the courts and come back to the administration office after the holiday weekend. You would expect this would be the end of the story…
I returned on Sept 4th, filled out the paperwork and went to pay for the prorated months. However, in the spirit of not giving all the information needed, my “friend” at the front desk had one more surprise for me. I handed her my American Airline credit card (that she had told me was fine to use before the long weekend) and then she added that there was a 3% service charge for using a credit card. This was a surprise, and while it may not seem like much I would have expected her to have told me that the prior week in one of my 2 visits. I certainly did not want to pay the extra fee so I used my debit card, foregoing the airline miles, and collected my membership information.
I left this entire experience wishing I could hold a customer service seminar to explain how important it is to give your customers all the information they need and to train your team to look at a situation and make a decision that is in best interest of the customer and your organization. By feeling empowered to override the policy or by understanding the importance of providing all pertinent information to help the customer make their decision, you are setting yourself and your customer up for a much better experience. That’s just good common sense!