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No fear

I recently discovered that at least one employee at my local supermarket has no fear of consequences for his behavior at work.

The King Soopers employee who bagged my two gallons of milk and bottle of Mr. Bubble (don’t judge me…) said, “Damn! I’d need this whole bottle for my bath!”

After bagging the last item, he immediately began texting on his smart-phone (I’m being generous…). Bewildered by his behavior, I removed the gallons of milk from their respective plastic bags (I didn’t want them bagged—he didn’t know because he didn’t ask), grabbed the bag containing the bubble bath, and left the store.

There was no acknowledgment of any kind (“Sorry, I didn’t know you didn’t want your milk bagged” or “Can I give you a hand with that?”), no appreciation (“Thank you”), no farewell (“Goodnight”), no respect (I felt disrespected and devalued as a customer), and, worse, no fear of consequences from management (as his “Damn!” was quite audible and he was texting in plain sight).

Long ago, I bought into the management principle: Blame the process, not the person.

So it’s appropriate at this juncture to ask, “What processes are to blame for this employee’s boorish conduct?”

I can think of several:

  • Employee selection
  • Onboarding
  • Employee training
  • Development/communication of performance standards
  • Behavior modeling by management
  • Ongoing performance management (including feedback and recognition)

Certainly, King Soopers is not the only culprit. Until employers address these processes in meaningful ways, employees will continue to offend customers by their indifference—with no fear of consequences.

Illustration: Aaron McKissen

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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