Wednesday, May 18, 2005

T.I.P.S. 101**Service Begins at Work

Service Begins at Work
By Gil C. Schmidt

If you are a manager, supervisor or business owner, you might be in charge of people who are required to provide customer service. You expect your people to be courteous, attentive, respectful, friendly and supportive. You might even go so far as to demand these attributes from your people and to do so on a daily basis.

Now, they might be too shy, polite or afraid to tell you what I’m going to tell you: Walk the talk. If you say it, live it. Don’t ask others to do what you aren’t willing—or can’t—do. In other words, Service Begins At Work, not with the Customer.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a “manager” or business owner treat an employee harshly and then turn around and treat a customer like a king or queen, often in front of the berated or harassed employee. If you’re one of these “Do as I say, not as I do” people—and there’s a word for that, you know—you need to make a positive change. And the sooner the better.

If you can stand another saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto others.” Okay, I switched it up on you to make the point that your employees’ level of customer service will be directly related to your level of managerial service to those employees. It is simply human nature: people who feel good about themselves and their situation are much more capable of generosity, attention and hospitality, all basic elements of excellent service.

Some of you might feel that a heavy hand will keep employees in line and focused on the bottom line. Here’s a question: how much training are you doing? You’ll know it’s a problem if you feel stressed about the amount of time you (as manager or owner) spend training employees. If they are often new employees and your department or company isn’t growing, you have a major turnover problem. If they are experienced employees and you still find yourself training them, you are overdoing it or they are passively resisting you, a polite way of “saying” you aren’t making a difference for them.

Relax. Train your employees on the basics and then treat them like colleagues, for that is what they are. Notice how the more respect and support you give them, the better the service they provide. And on a possibly cynical note: Please don’t fake respect or support. If it isn’t sincere, it’ll do more harm than being hard-nosed would do.

You might want to print this up and pass it around. Let’s call it Schmidt’s Service Corollary to The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto others.”

I like that. And so will you.


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