Are Your Employees Empowered?
Recently I was enjoying a great meal in an exciting environment with extended family. We had a situation arise that was not a huge issue, but worth asking about. When I inquired with our server, she cheerfully recited what was a conditioned response, “sorry that’s our policy, would you like me to ask our manager?” I answered, “Sure, thank you”. A second staff member returned to our table a few minutes later and asked if there was something he could assist with. I repeated my question and received the same cheerful response. I was confused because I believed this gentleman to be the manager (decision maker). A third staff member arrived at our table, I asked again and he told me he was the manager and there was nothing he could do as that was the policy.
A curious thing during all of this was that each of the 3 employees prefaced their answer with “sorry”. If you were truly sorry, you would have facilitated a resolution rather that providing a clearly canned response. Please don’t apologize, it’s not sincere. I am 100% positive this same reply is provided to numerous customers daily as my issue was very common. If you were truly sorry, you would have either 1) rectified my situation or 2) changed your policy. You made a conscious decision to implement to the policy and are now constantly apologizing for it?
Once you commit to empowerment, you’ll be amazed at the return on the investment.
This scenario also made me wonder about the premium this restaurant placed on customer satisfaction. Undoubtedly, the employees are not empowered to make decisions to ensure customers have an exceptional dining experience. I then questioned my own Company’s philosophy on this matter. Are our employees empowered? Do we trust them to make decisions that may have a short term financial impact our company but foster a long term relationship with a satisfied customer? Can the staff do whatever it takes to resolve the issue and get the customer taken care of? Or, do they have to constantly call the office for “manager approval”.
We need to make certain that team members have proper coaching and guidelines regarding what is acceptable. Some items do required manager approval! But on the small day to day issues that arise, the front line people need to be empowered to handle these situations then and there. Customer relations critically depend on it. Take the time to distribute publications that address this issue. Include this as a key talking point during weekly tech and/or sales meetings. Encourage staff to share experiences when customer satisfaction was ensured by employee empowerment. Ask customers for testimonials regarding their impression on how situations were handled. Once you commit to empowerment, you’ll be amazed at the return on the investment.
The financial burden to the restaurant to resolve my issue…. $10.00. The long term impact of finding satisfactory resolution…PRICELESS!
Blog contributed by Brian Gould, Branch Manager (Arizona), Low Voltage Contractors