Monday, December 22nd, 2008
Last week, I visited a leading “big-box” retailer to do a bit of holiday shopping. The first thing I noticed upon entering the store was that a large group of perhaps twenty employees had formed a circle to conduct an informal pre-shift meeting. As I passed by the group, I made a few observations:
- No one in the group noticed me or any of the other customers—including one who was struggling to free a shopping cart from the end of the row—as we passed by.
- The fact that the group was facing inward and process-focused as opposed to facing outward and customer-focused, to me, contradicted its company’s mission statement which includes: “…delivering…an exceptional guest experience by consistently fulfilling our…brand promise.”
- I overheard that the previous day’s sales had exceeded the budgeted forecast. That’s good news—especially in this economy! Guess who made it possible? Ironically, the customers who were now largely ignored.
- Guest contact employees are always “on stage.” This group, although it was prominently featured in the very spotlight of center stage, was performing as if it was backstage and there was no audience!
I understand why this company holds these informal “huddles.” It’s a way to keep the lines of communication open between hourly employees and management as well as provide insight into the store’s operations and financials.
It’s also a great way to communicate and reinforce the company’s highest priority: serving customers. Unfortunately, in my view, this is where they missed the target…