“Treating people with respect and dignity is a creed we live by every day. You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management.” – Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks CoffeeTim was the owner of a supermarket in our area. He was always on the floor, chatting to customers, eyeing the queues at the checkouts and lending a hand if someone needed assistance. Always visible, he got to know people’s names and used them. Everybody got the same treatment. Late one evening I was downwind of a young tourist vacillating between the rows. He had a body odour that could have been used as paint stripper. The other patrons were wrapping scarves around their faces like wild west desperadoes. In swoops Super Tim who energetically assisted him to stock his basket, whizz him through the tills and then donated two cans of deodorant. Win-win for all; rapid shopping for the tourist (with bonus pack of smellies) and the other patrons who could then extract their nose plugs. Very occasionally the store would be out of stock on some commodity. Tim would take your address and personally deliver the item that evening. The fact that he was losing money in terms of having to purchase at another retailer, transport costs and time was totally irrelevant – his overriding consideration was satisfying customer needs. His enthusiasm didn’t only impress the shoppers, it permeated to his staff. They would go out of their way to help. I once asked a lady at the bakery counter where I could find dishwasher. She didn’t vaguely point and say “Aisle 3”- she took me to the shelves and then advised on the various options! I watched her go back to her counter and another floor member had filled in for her whilst she had been away. The way that they were continually looking for work, you’d think that they had shares in the store. Tim knew the secret. Treat your staff as you do the shopper. He invested time showing keen interest in their needs, backgrounds and aspirations. Even in times of recession, ongoing training was the order of the day which sustained morale. The result – he set the example, gained the respect and loyalty of his employees and they reciprocated by giving their best to the most important part of any business – the customer. Good leaders practise customer service on their own staff to keep the example alive. “You cannot give good customer service if your employees don’t feel good about coming to work”.
Martin Oliver, MD Kwik-Fit Financial Services