Plugging the Damned Dam

How many times have you seen or been a part of organizations that spend all of their time plugging holes in the dam instead of taking the hammer away from the kid who keeps making the holes?

One of the biggest holes for B2C (that is, businesses that sell directly to consumers) is this: Employees who forget who the Customer is. (Hint: It's NOT THEM!)

You're seen it. You go to a restaurant and no one greets you. You show up at a doctor's office and there is no one to take your information. You want to ask a question about a bathroom faucet or a dress, but the sales floor is a ghost town. You call a local business in an effort to support your community, but no one picks up.

These are business killers.

If you own or manage a small business, do this: Have one of your relatives go in to your business on your day off, and have them film or make notes of the whole experience (it's certainly cheaper than hiring a Secret Shopper). If you're at home, call your business using your spouse's phone, or your kid's. You may not like what you hear... or don't hear.

You must build your corporate culture in such a way that employees act like you want them to even when you're not there. If you don't, you'll never be able to take a day off, and your spouse will kill you. The best way to get employees to do what you want even when you're not there is to hire the best employees you can afford, even if it takes a long time to find them. Never, ever hire someone just to have a warm body in the position; you'll only have to fire them later, or live with your mistake for years.

Second, make sure that you have communicated your corporate culture - mostly by making sure that you and all of your managers are living examples of it. If you always treat Customers like who they are - the people who buy your groceries - and impress on your employees that perfection is the only behavior that is acceptable, and why, things will begin to move in the right direction.

Bear in mind, when I say Customers buy your groceries, I mean Internal Customers as well as External Customers. If you don't treat your employees perfectly, nothing else you do will encourage them to treat External Customers well. In fact, they are much more likely to do the opposite. Wouldn't you, if your boss was a jerk?

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