Archive for August 21, 2013

“I Can’t Help You, I’m On a Break”

 

This recently happened to me when shopping at a big box retailer – I was having trouble looking for a particular item and noticed an employee walking by. I stopped her and asked if she could help me. She quickly said, I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I’m on a break” and continued walking.

 

I was taken aback by this statement, but after learning more, I found out that it is company policy to not work in any way, shape or form, while off the clock.  In thinking about it, I understand this policy from the company’s perspective in a way, but as a typical customer, this only gives the impression of employees who don’t want to help customers and can give a negative perception of the store and its staff.

 

If this type of policy is in place, it’s a good idea to train staff on ways to handle this situation without appearing as though they don’t want to help or ‘do their job’ in order to maintain a positive experience for customers. Some tips to achieve this goal include:

 

1. Encourage staff to appear as much like a customer as possible – whether this means removing an apron that identifies them as an employee, putting a sweater or jacket on over a uniform, or anything else to help not identify them as an employee as they are walking through the store to take their break or meal will make them less conspicuous to customers, and hopefully this will lessen the interaction during these transition periods.

 

2. Teach them the right way to say things – in my example, the employee simply apologized and stated she could not help me. In a perfect world, it would have been better for the employee to say they couldn’t help me right now, but they’d get someone who could. In walking back to where ever this employee was going, I’m sure they would have encountered a coworker or possibly stopped at the service desk to let a coworker know I needed help. Another option would be to guide the customer to a place where help was available, whether it meant going to the service desk, picking up a help phone within an aisle, or offering another quick solution. This might alleviate any negative perceptions that may arise during these interactions.

 

3. Offer alternative exits and entrances when possible – this may not be possible within all companies, but providing a means to exit and enter the building that is out of the main customer traffic might be helpful. This way employees are not put in this type of situation.

 

4. Don’t penalize employees, at least not too harshly – if it happens where an employee ends up assisting a customer while off the clock, remind them of the policy and offer ways around this (see above), but try not to punish them too harshly. I once encountered an employee who could not help me because she was off the clock, and shared with me that she “already got in trouble once before, and if it happens again I’m really in trouble.” While I was sympathetic with the employee and did not want her to jeopardize her job, my perception of the company lessened a bit. I don’t think any employee should be fearful of losing their job over something like this. Of course, there could be a back story I’m not aware of as to why this employee might be on the verge of more trouble, but from my limited perception, it didn’t bode well for the company. And, as they say, perception is reality.

 

Ensure your employees feel empowered to handle all kinds of situations in the workplace to make them feel successful at what they do. This is just one small example, but I’m sure there are others you can think of. It might be a good time to ask your employees for their feedback on stumbling blocks to their work – you never know what they’ll share!

 

 

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Tales From The Hiring Front

 

Job seekers know that the landscape is competitive, and it’s important to stand out when applying for a job. As a hiring manager, you may have seen some interesting tactics job candidates may use to achieve their goal of standing out and staying front and center during the hiring process.

 

CareerBuilder recently surveyed hiring managers to learn more about ways candidates have tried to make themselves memorable – some were good and ended up landing them a job, while others, while I’m sure talked about within the company, did not lead to gainful employment.
What have some managers seen? Based on the results from the CareerBuilder survey, here are some ways candidates ended up landing the job:

1. Candidate contracted a billboard outside of employer’s office.

2. Candidate gave a resume on a chocolate bar.

3. Candidate showed up in a suit with a red T-shirt underneath a white shirt. The red T-shirt had a message – “Hire me, I work hard.”

4. Candidate asked to be interviewed in Spanish to showcase his skills.

5. Candidate crafted the cover letter like an invitation to hire her rather than a request (similar to a wedding invitation).

6. Candidate climbed on a roof the employer was repairing and asked for a job.

7. Candidate performed a musical number on the guitar about why he was the best candidate.

8. Candidate volunteered to help out with making copies when he saw interviewer’s assistant was getting frazzled.

9. Candidate repaired a piece of company’s equipment during the first interview.

10. Candidate sent a message in a bottle.

 

Now for some techniques that weren’t as effective:

 

1. Candidate back-flipped into the room.

2. Candidate brought items from interviewer’s online shopping wish list.

3. Candidate sent a fruit basket to interviewer’s home address, which the interviewer had not given her.

4. Candidate did a tarot reading for the interviewer.

5. Candidate dressed as a clown.

6. Candidate sent interviewer some beef stew with a note saying “Eat hearty and hire me J.”

7. Candidate placed a timer on interviewer’s desk, started it, and told interviewer he would explain in 3 minutes why he was the perfect candidate.

8. Candidate sent interviewer a lotto ticket.

9. Candidate wore a florescent suit.

10. Candidate sent in a shoe to “get their foot in the door.”

 

If you’ve ever been responsible for hiring within your company, what have you seen? Please feel free to share with the community – we always love to hear your stories!

 

 

 

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Give Franchises Tools For Success

 

As companies grow, it can be difficult to endure the “growing pains” that come along with it, and franchising a business is no exception. Franchise owners are provided support and guidance, especially in the beginning, and providing ongoing support and tools to be successful will help them be successful while maintaining consistency across all locations.

 

One trend we’re seeing is offering customer experience measurement service tools to franchise owners, Area Developers, and Territory Managers within companies nationwide. This can come in the form of offering mystery shopping and customer feedback tools for franchises to monitor their progress, ensure they are adhering to corporate policy, and give peace of mind to those at the corporate level as they begin to grow.

 

Many larger companies will contract with a provider that offers such tools and secure a discounted rate for services. Once that is in place, corporate can offer these services to franchises at that reduced rate. Some may opt to use their own, internal, program, or contract with another provider for similar services. Offering a uniform set of tools, however, provides many benefits to all, including:

 

1. Cost effective programs: because pricing is reduced for the company, franchise owners can take advantage of the lower price points, making it more cost effective than seeking out services individually.

 

2. Monitor health of franchise locations: if desired, those at the corporate level will have access to the data from mystery shopping and feedback programs for all locations. This will allow corporate to ensure that standards and operational procedures are being met. It also gives the franchise owners a gauge of how they are doing compared to other locations, as the reporting capabilities allow for location vs company trending and analysis.

 

3. Identify where support is needed: often times the results of these programs can shed light on additional areas where support may be needed to help a franchise owner be successful. This may come in the form of additional training and education, or assistance with marketing and promotional materials.

 

Companies who offer these tools to their franchises have reported success. Franchise owners and Area Managers have taken advantage of these programs and reported that the data collected is extremely useful in gauging success and identifying challenges across locations.

 

These tools can also be used as a discussion guide during corporate meetings, franchise teleconferences, or other similar meeting opportunities Franchises can share their experiences and results from these measurement programs, and together can get feedback and share best practices, often times with guidance at the corporate level, to help each owner be successful.

 

Does your company offer customer experience measurement tools/services to franchise locations? Feel free to share how your company does this, and how successful it has been for your company.

 

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