Are Your Service Employees No Better Than a Statue in the Park?

…if so, here’s 5 simple ways to fix it

I watched the customer’s eyes scan the area, first to the left then to the right side of the store. He hoped to make eye contact with the sales woman but alas, no luck. Apparently she had more important tasks to do than tending to the customer. What was so important that she had to give statue service?

Statue Service

Sending a text to a friend, updating her Facebook page, combing her hair and then checking her makeup. These are all “important tasks” but not while working. There are customers to serve…

I was watching too. I saw the sales person finish her tasks then just stand there and not offer help to the customer. What was she waiting for?

Should the customer search aisle after aisle for help or should he toss up his hands in frustration and just walk out. The latter happens more than we realize.

Most lost business comes from the customer we haven’t serviced or were even aware of. The customer expected service and received none so they went elsewhere. When employees are more focused on personal or administrative tasks that take them away from the service floor where the sale is made, we shouldn’t wonder why our revenues fall.

Here are some facts that back this up:

  • $41 billion is lost by US companies each year due to poor customer service – Insight Squared
  • 66% of customers switch companies due to poor service – Accenture
  • 42% switch because they are put off by rude or unhelpful staff – New Voice Media

The employee forgets or, lacking direction, doesn’t realize their job is to move throughout the business in search of a customer to help. They just stand there and think the customer should come to them. I call it “statue service”.

He could have received better service from a statue in the park. At least the statue is always in plain sight…

The minimum expectation a customer has is that he/she will be offered assistance without having to hunt for it.

We fail every time a service employee stands around either with “nothing to do” or doesn’t make any attempt to be proactive and engage the customer.

Here’s 5 Ways to Fix Your Statue Service

Hire Employees with a Customer First Mindset

It is said that to excel in the service industry we need a “servant mindset”. Customer service must be “their mission” and continually shown with an outward expression and willingness to help. This is something you can’t teach, it must already be present in the employees you hire.

Hire Managers with a Servant Leadership Mindset

Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term “servant leadership” and continued with this phrase; “The servant-leader is servant first…It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”

We should never expect management to lead others without first being a servant themselves. Click To Tweet

Create a Vision of What You Wish to Be

Your employees will never be able to provide the expected service without a clearly defined goal.

Your “vision” must be evident in everything your business does. Click To Tweet

Each message and customer interaction must stress this vision.

Every Employee Must Carry The Mission On Their Lapel

The company mission statement is not just for a plaque on the wall or within the pages of an employee manual. Your mission must be carried in the hearts and minds of every employee. Click To Tweet All actions must be focused on the goal of great service is the minimum expectation to achieve the mission.

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Mountains of articles are written about this term and I don’t wish to argue the fact more than needed. We should always hire the best possible employees and take whatever time needed to do so.

Then, after an appropriate time and proper training, and if the employee still fails to follow the goals as listed above, we must cut the ties and move on.

Not everyone is suited for the service industry; this is a fact – at least as far as I’m concerned.

Management must come to terms that not everyone can aspire to the dreams of others. Click To Tweet

If you can’t find the proper role for an employee, one that will let their inherent skills to shine through, allow them to leave with dignity and find the work that is best for them.

Our customers expect much. Management expects much too and so does ownership.

How can we ever aim for the stars if our feet are firmly planted like a statue? Click To Tweet

Copyright © 2017 Steve DiGioia

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4 thoughts on “Are Your Service Employees No Better Than a Statue in the Park?

  1. Steve, another great blog! All too many times customers feel like they need to light a fire , or send up smoke signals, to get a bit of service when they need help. When I am at work, I actually enjoy doing what I call “customer/Guest circulation”. Physically moving out on the sales floor and making contact with each person out there is something that helps not only you , but also helps your visitors know that there is a CSR to help if need be. It is as if you were throwing a party and you want to welcome each of your Guests – and find out how they are doing. This really isn’t hard, but you do need a knack for talking with people in order to serve them. I am in agreement with the statement you made about hiring right and doing a “talent search” for those who have the innate ability for service. Disney always looks for what I labelled that “certain something” and if I were an employer, I would look for that something that makes great customer/Guest service a reality.

    • Thanks Lisa. Since many of today’s youth, and adults too, cannot interact with others because their experience is usually only “online based”, they have little to no people skills. They seem afraid to actually talk with others.

      No wonder why they are afraid to walk up to a customer and say hello.