Neil has been at the customer service game for years. As the GM, he manages one of iconic stores in the area. In fact, with so many visitors coming here, it’s a wonder he is not nationally known. Known for what you ask? Neil is a talented retail manager that has spent more than 20 years as a consultant to giant retailers. He’s seen his share of corporate reorganizations, turn-arounds, and do-overs. He was always on the go, off the next disaster to be cleaned up.
These days Neil has a single focus. As the GM of his store, he can focus on developing the best results inside of his own four walls. Getting off the road took some adjusting he explained, “I was in a groove and travelled somewhere every other week. Once I settled back down, I wonder how I did it with all the travel, all the hotels, taxis, and meetings.”
Neil spends a good 8-10 hours a day in his store. “I cut out once in a while but for the most part I am here to lead the team. I have a great bunch of managers and we push and pull against each other as needed. Regardless, my team gets it done.”
“We are fresh off a store walk that had the place full of merchants, VPs, and everyone else you can think of poking around. The CEO was here too. He walked in my office unannounced with a couple of cups that said Starbucks and sat down. We turned off the iPhones and had a chat. What did we talk about? Well, mostly, we talked about creating a culture around customer service. In retail, the shopping experience is everything. It makes the company go.”
“We look for feedback from everyone in the building. We have regular leadership roundtables for our associates to say what they have to say. Most of the time they have ideas they want to try as a solution to a problem. That’s good for everyone involved. They are the closest to the problem so why not listen and apply their insight to try and smooth things out. It is all for the customer anyway. I like to think my entire organization is obsessed with what the customer wants.”
“We spend a lot of time on why giving excellent customer service is important — not only for the company, but for the world around us. We are a stand-alone store, so our customers have to make a special trip to walk in the door.”
“We try to reward our people for their good service behaviors. Cash awards are nice, yes, but there are many other ways to say, ‘nice job.’ Extra time off, for instance, or an article in the company newsletter, a trophy or plaque awarded at a special recognition event, tickets to special events tied to an employee’s interests, and of course a simple, hand written note of thanks are all ways to reward the kinds of behaviors you want to see more of. But one thing above all strikes me. The value of taking the time to train our associates correctly the first time. This way, they learn the culture as soon as they are hired. There are blue chip companies out there with well respected on boarding programs. Your orientation program is a key part of the ultimate success of your customer service efforts. We strive to make sure ours contains more than an explanation of benefits and a tour of the facilities. It can be an important element in planting the customer service culture of the company so it can flourish and grow. I am a firm believer that training is one of the most impactful forms of associate recognition.”
“I was standing down front the other day and a customer came up to me and asked if I ran the place? I just nodded my head. Then the man said, “I know retail. Let me tell you, I saw something that just blew me away.” “I pressed him for more information.” He said, “There was a young man walking past the service counter with some items he was putting away. He stopped quickly and leaned over the counter and said something to the girl there. They both laughed then gave each other a high five then off they went…back to work. That was remarkable.” Yes I agree,” I said to the customer. “The team is working together. The engine is hitting on all cylinders!”