Act Like You Give A Damn!

I’m a firm believer in quality customer service!  I believe that in order for any business to build its brand, retain its existing customers and find new ones, it must be responsive to what the customer says about them and asks of them.
This does not mean that a business must take action to every comment or complaint made by a customer – the customer is not always right – but a business must at the very least present the impression that they are being responsive and taking seriously the concerns of the customer.
Clearly, no business can take action on every comment or concern.  But there is certainly a lot that a business can learn when they pay attention to what is being said by their customers. This is also true for comments made by business partners, suppliers, vendors, distributors, retailers, and in-house staff.
Developing this responsiveness requires active listening skills (and other tools for candid and detailed information gathering), but unfortunately in too many businesses the skill is terribly underdeveloped and underutilized.
For example:  If you regularly shop at a particular supermarket, and something you regularly buy is not on the shelves when you go to buy it, you should go to the store manager and ask why this item is not in stock.  Even if it is not store policy for the check-out clerks to ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”, it makes sense that if you don’t find what you’re looking for on the shelf, either that clerk or her manager should take a report about the absent product!  The store should offer to find out why the item is not in stock, and actually report back to you if they will be getting more or if they will no longer be carrying that item.  Don’t you deserve to know?  If the clerk or manager doesn’t take a moment to write down your request, there is no way the ordering or receiving department can ask the distributor why the item isn’t getting on the shelves.
The same goes for any other kind of customer service issue, whether in person at a brick and mortar retailer, or with an online seller.  At the very least, the seller must provide the perspective and perception that they care about their customers’ concerns and that they will be responsive. Though we’d like that responsiveness to be more prevalent, rarely will you actually get the action you seek.  But if you don’t say something, if you don’t communicate your concerns, then nothing is accomplished, and the customer service experience will not improve.
Can the same be said about employers?   If an employee takes the time to tell a supervisor that something can be improved, or something isn’t going the way it should, it behooves the employer to not just listen to the comments, but to take notes and investigate.  And then, if appropriate, the employer can decide whether to take action or not.
But when employers do not provide the impression that they care about the input of their staff, morale is severely damaged. This not only affects the individual employee that brought the issue to the fore, but to others in her department with whom he may have spoken.  Usually, when one person brings up an issue, chances are good that she isn’t the only one feeling that something needs to be changed.  Not everyone is comfortable speaking up and offering suggestions or complaints, but that doesn’t negate that the feelings are there.  And if the employees believe their comments and interests on the job are not being responded to, it tends to lead to unhappy and disloyal workers.
These days, it is am employer’s market; employers can afford to be very choosy about who they hire because of the huge volume of available talent.  But in spite the availability of candidates, employers cannot become cavalier about employee input.  Employers must demonstrate respect and appreciation for what their minions do to make improvements and create better workplaces.  Even if it only means the employer is merely providing the perception they are listening – even if action isn’t warranted – the effect on employee morale can’t be underestimated.  Employers must act like they give a damn, not just about their bottom line but about their most valuable asset, their employees.
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