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Let’s Try A New “Approach”

, , , , | Working | November 28, 2017

(We have a new manager transferred in. His old store is more than twice the size of our store and much busier than ours. He starts working during the first day of our in-house inventory, so we have our whole staff in for a meeting.)

Manager: “My first goal here is to make our customer service polls the highest in the company! In my old store, we had a ‘ten foot rule.’ If a customer is within ten feet of you, you must approach them and ask them how they are doing or if they need any help. From now on, this is the rule of this store! Approach every customer, whether you are here on your normal shift or helping with inventory.”

(For the first couple hours we are open, he coaches us on this ten foot rule, scolding us for not doing it even when customers have just spoken to different employees. His rationale is that maybe the customer didn’t want to talk to one employee, but would feel more comfortable talking to a different one. He has us re-approach customers who stepped out of the ten foot radius and came back. He has us approach customers who are actively being helped by another employee. Soon, every employee is dropping counting stock dozens of times to greet each customer, and the new manager seems happy. The next morning though, he is upset at the staff meeting.)

Manager: “I’m really disappointed in you guys. I did informal interviews yesterday on customers leaving the stores, and I got a ton of complaints about the same thing! Customers felt hassled by the sales team. Here, let me read you this comment card: “Every few seconds an employee was talking to me. I couldn’t shop because I couldn’t think.” Plus we are way behind on our counts for inventory. Now, I have no idea why this happened, but I’m willing to take suggestions.”

Me: “Well, it’s probably because you have a 600-square-foot store with twelve employees working who are all talking to every customer multiple times.”

(The other employees agree with me.)

Manager: “Are you saying this was my fault? Okay, I’ll tell you what. We will do things your way today and see how well it works, but when this fails, there will be consequences!”

(We did so. Sales staff helped customers, inventory staff worked on inventory and directing questions appropriately, and we scored a near perfect on our customer polls that day. The manager retransferred soon afterward.)

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