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What training?

This post is the second in a series that will identify 10 different obstacles that have emerged from my analysis of customer satisfaction data. Maybe you will have encountered one or more of these obstacles in your own business? The second obstacle is insufficient employee training.

Recently a large family entertainment complex, Celebrity Lanes, had its grand opening. It boasts 40 spacious bowling lanes, VIP suites, an arcade, and a 40-beer tap house.

I attended the grand opening with my family earlier this month. At a kiosk near the arcade, I purchased a set of cards that were loaded with $10 each worth of game tokens. Not long into playing, my oldest son had a problem with his card.

When I approached one of the arcade employees standing behind the counter, she pointed to another employee outside the arcade and said,I’m not in charge of those. Talk to the woman in the pink shirt.”

Well, the woman in the pink shirt had a line of customers in front of her and a line had also formed at the lone kiosk in the arcade. So I asked the employee, “Can I just buy a replacement card from you and sort the problem out (with the woman in the pink shirt) later?”

She replied, “I haven’t been trained on the cash register.”

Interestingly, I had met a Celebrity Lanes employee at a social event prior to my visit and asked her what she thought of the pre-opening training. Her response: “What training?”

She went on to describe how her orientation and training consisted of an icebreaker activity, Two Truths and a Lie, and group bowling.

Unless one of my children is invited to a Celebrity Lanes birthday party, we have no plans to return. There are just too many family entertainment options available that don’t leave me with a feeling of buyer’s remorse.

So, what can we learn from this experience? Here are several clues that may indicate your new-hire employee training is insufficient:

  • When an employee is approached about a common problem that directly pertains to her job role, she responds:I’m not in charge of those. Talk to the woman in the pink shirt.”
  • When a counter employee in a retail environment is asked to ring up a sale, she responds: “I haven’t been trained on the cash register.”
  • In response to questions about the quality of her pre-opening training, an employee responds: “What training?”
  • Your pre-opening training consists of an icebreaker activity and bowling.

The remedy for inadequately trained employees is simple: Offer effective job-related training.

Many employers neglect training because they feel that it is too costly. This shortsighted perspective tends to focus on the operating statement over the next 30 days and does not take into account what happens in the months thereafter.

If you have failed to rehearse customer service scenarios in advance through formalized job-related training, then you are practicing on customers. This is a recipe for disaster. Here’s why:

Every single customer is irreplaceable.

Recognize that when one of your customers defects because of a poorly trained employee, that customer is irreplaceable. And his or her lifetime contribution to your business—including future spending, feedback, and referrals—can never be replaced. Ever.

So even if Celebrity Lanes manages to attract another customer to replace me, I am gone forever. And forever is a long time.

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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