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Advice / Opinions ??

Author jeffieruth
#1 | Posted: 6 Oct 2006 15:34 
I am fixing to discuss with an employee and set goals in regard to customer service. This has been an ongoing issue for years with the employee response being that this is their personality. I want to be as clear and fair as possible. I am looking at giving the employee the following:

Scale of Complaint Likelihood:

A — Patron thinks highly enough of visit and service provided to write or call management to praise the employee.

B - Patron leaves satisfied. May thank or compliment employee.

C - Patron leaves without comment.

D - Patron leaves unhappy but does not say anything. May make anonymous complaint.

F - Patron leaves unhappy and is dissatisfied enough to contact management via phone or management. Leaves name.

Customer Service Goals:

Insuring the library needs of children, youth and parents by:

Conveying a warm, yet respectful and unpatronizing attitude towards young library users and their parents

Treating all users with equal courtesy and consideration

Listening carefully, asking questions as necessary to be sure I understand what the patron needs and that they understand me

Acknowledging their presence in the department as they enter and asking if they need assistance

Giving full attention to public service when on duty and at the desk

And having us both sign the following agreement:

Customer Service Goals:

Within the framework of the scale provided, I will maintain a C or higher level of customer service.

It is understood that I have 3 opportunities to maintain a C or higher. My supervisor will provide feedback whenever a patron experiences lower than a C level of customer service.

If there are more than 3 opportunities needed, disciplinary action will be taken.

Work Environment Goals:

Staff interactions are expected to be handled professionally with a supervisor alerted to any potential for strife. Employee is to walk away from any potential disagreement and talk with a supervisor immediately. Any negative co-worker engagement, irregardless of fault, continues a pattern of conflict and is to be avoided to prevent immediate disciplinary action on the part of the supervisor.

Does anyone have any other suggestion? Thanks, Jeffie

Author KarenSB
#2 | Posted: 7 Oct 2006 11:18 
Hi Jeffie,

Here's what I understand about unhappy customers:

It takes 8 CONSECUTIVE, POSITIVE actions to bring a negative perspective to neutral.


It takes 8 consecutive, positive actions to bring a neutral perspective to positive.

Who in this world gets 16 chances?

Pretty grim statistics, so it becomes absolutely vital to our businesses to be "on" all the time.

That said, I am a firm believer in continual feedback. Whether positive or negative, staff receives feedback from me all the time. I personally could never wait to offer an employee feedback only if I hear from a customer. I also request feedback continually...from staff and from customers. How am I doing? How are we doing? Are we serving your needs? How can we improve our service to you? I never, ever rest on my laurels.

So, where am I going with this? Offering 3 opportunities to maintain a C or higher may be absolutely appropriate for your situation. I don't know enough to say one way or the other. But I would think you would want to put more parameters around this...3 opportunities in a day? a week? a month?

"Disciplinary action will be taken" in my humble, is far too obtuse. What action? What exactly can the employee expect as a consequence to his/her actions?

Personally, I am quite hard-nosed about this. Customer service is the end-all for me. First and second infractions would be a written warning. The third would be final and employee would be dismissed (depending, of course, on the circumstances). I cannot afford to lose customers!

"Employee is to walk away from potential disagreement" also leaves me feeling uncomfortable. I do not want an employee engaging in a heated discussion/argument with a customer...but I also do not want them walking away...leaving the customer hanging there. Perhaps that is not at all what you intend...so my advice is to clarify this. Something like: if there is a disagreement with a customer, do not argue and do not get defensive. Listen to their complaint, and acknowledge that there is a problem. Ask if they can wait for a supervisor to be called. If the customer cannot wait, ask if a supervisor may call them to discuss the situation.

Finally, I would hope that any negative co-worker engagement would result in potential discliplinary action for BOTH involved parties...not just the employee in question.

Good luck to you! Conflict management is one of the toughest things we have to do, and it is imperative that we do it well. We can do it well by being thorough and fair and absolutely crystal-clear on what we expect.


Author jeffieruth
#3 | Posted: 9 Oct 2006 07:58 
I only meant "walk away" if in a disagreement with a co-worker not a customer. We have disciplined both parties before. Unfortunately one person has been repeatedly involved in all of the altercations setting up a bad pattern that illustrates an inability to judge circumstances and control reaction. I'm having to learn how to deal with these situations. So far I've had both parties pooh-pooh the conflict after management became involved when one of them complained in writing and I've had both parties refuse to discuss the issue and work with me to resolve it. (I didn't realize at the time it was insubordination and I could have ended the work relationship then.) Both are frustrating.

I wasn't too sure about how to phrase the 3 times. We don't have a sliding scale of discipline. It would be termination on the third time. I do need to firm up that phrasing. It's so hard because I'm trying to put this problem to the person positively as they can fix it! I was leaving it open-ended time-wise because I don't want them thinking it's okay if they can do it for a week, a month and then have incident #4. On the other hand, I don't know that it's a good thing for them to feel like this is a sword over their head for the rest of their time in the workplace.

Thank you for the advice!

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