Monday, April 29, 2013

Being Helpful (A Work-Related Post)

We've all observed (or been on the receiving end of) a conversation like this... could be the IRS, the DMV, Dilbert, your office...

So, for the sake of argument (and to protect the guilty), let's say that we're talking about a service that will draw a bath for you.  Rubber duckies are a free and logical, but optional, component to this transaction.

Ernie (being helped): "Oh, and could I also get some rubber duckies?"

Bert (the helper), looking at his paperwork: "There's no rubber duckies listed on the work order, but I'll get you some.  They should have been listed on this paperwork."

BRRRRRRRRRRT.   Wrong.



What Bert said: "Yes, but it's an inconvenience and someone screwed up and here I am having to fix things.  I need you to hear this so that next time, you make sure to ask for the rubber duckies."

What Ernie heard: "You are inconveniencing me.  This is not what my paperwork says to do and being flexible is extremely difficult for me.  I feel uncomfortable without my walls."

We should stop for a moment and recognize that Bert has probably been given extremely rigid guidelines within which to work, may be penalized for not doing exactly what he's been told, and at the very least, he's not been given any expectation of proving Customer Service as component of his role. He's simply supposed to do his job and nothing but.

What Bert have said: "Certainly, I can get those for you!   How many do you need?"

End of story.  We already know they're a free optional offering.

Ernie's happy, Bert's the hero.

Now, if Ernie's request is unreasonable, Bert can come back and later and tell him, but now it's the policy and not Bert who's the obstruction.  Bert's still the good guy who's on Ernie's side with an interest of making sure Ernie has the absolute best bath experience.  Ernie doesn't care that things would go better next time if the rubber duckies were listed on the form.  Ernie doesn't care that Big Bird forgot to ask how many duckies he needed.   Bert should take that up with Big Bird later.

But there's one more option:

Bert: "A lot of people ask for rubber duckies when they order a bath be drawn.  I don't see any listed here.  Did you need any rubber duckies today?"

BAM. Now Bert's the proactive superhero working for the customer and assuring repeat business and improving the reputation of the organization in the process.

You know your customers.  How can you go above and beyond to make them happier?

Happy customers = repeat customers.
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