I stopped by the cleaners to drop off a couple of suits the other day and walked into a full blown verbal altercation between the counter attendant and a customer. I took a seat to wait my turn to check in my suits all the while listening to the customer’s foul language and the counter attendant’s repeated attempts to get the customer to cease the verbal attacks. From what I could gather, the customer brought in a white pant suit (worn one time) for cleaning. Upon returning to pick up the suit, the jacket was ready for pickup, but the pants had not yet arrived. To make matters worse, the jacket was stained. The customer had previously spoken to the business owner regarding her dissatisfaction and was told to speak with the onsite manager. The customer requested a refund because she was not satisfied and a refund for the damaged jacket. The pants arrived during this time and were also stained. The attendant stated that she was not authorized to issue a refund. The customer stated that the owner advised her to speak with the onsite manager regarding the situation prompting the attendant to respond “I’m not the manager, I don’t know why she(the owner) told you that.” This answer resulted in more foul language from the customer and her husband. The attendant attempted without success to reach the owner via phone for assistance. I could no longer bear to watch and asked all parties if it was ok for me to intervene. After clarifying the facts of the situation, I asked the customers to consider the position of the attendant. They initially seemed a little puzzled. I turned to the attendant and asked if she had authorization to resolve the situation, what would she do? She stated that she would refund the customer’s money for the cleaning and speak with the owner regarding a refund for the damaged suit. I turned back to the customer and advised them that the attendant knew what was the right thing to do, but did not have the power to follow through. I advised the attendant to not take the customer’s anger personally, as they are angry with the company, not necessarily her personally, and she represents the company. I then advised the attendant to get with the owner to develop a resolution for the customer. We developed a reasonable timeframe for the attendant to contact the customer with the resolution. The customer agreed to this and left the premises. I then advised the attendant to speak with the owner about creating operational options which will empower her to handle daily situations. She agreed that this is a good idea.
Empower your front line employees to take care of the customer. Make sure they understand the options available to resolve daily situations. This creates employee confidence and customer loyalty. Both are important to the long term success of your business.