By and large the retail shopping experience that I have experienced across the region can be characterized as “take it or leave it”.
Companies seem to be staffed up to the hilt with people who just could not care less whether or not the customer makes a purchase. In fact, their lives are easier when the customer walks out and doesn’t bother them.
This attitude, which pervades non-tourist Caribbean countries, costs company owners a LOT of money each year, as they wonder why it is that their sales are falling and their traffic is dwindling.
I believe that the way to impact this attitude on a large scale is to:
- use psychometric testing to weed out the wrong people
- train them extensively
- role model the level of service desired
- continue to reinforce, coach and train
- consolidate jobs, and pay the better staff more
Part of the training I would provide is what I call “face and body management”. I would use video-taped feedback to help employees see what they look like when they are serving customers. They might need to learn how to project an air of commitment and attentiveness — something that contrasts with the air of boredom and “I don’t care” that they might have learned in school.
I get the distinct impression that our front-line service personnel just do not know what they look like when they are attempting to provide service to others, and many would be appalled if they were to receive objective feedback in the form of a taped interaction.
Many of them seem to bring juvenile, teenage behaviours to the workplace, and in the absence of role models, it becomes the norm. Perhaps was fashionable when they re 15, but in the workplace it is ineffective and leads to customers feeling that the employees don’t care before the first words are exchanged.
I compare it to body odour.
Someone has to tell a teen to wear deodorant for the first time, because the chances are good that they are unable to smell themselves. In like manner, unless they are helped to see what they are doing physically, they are unable to change what their bodies and faces are doing.