Does Your Culture Stick When Times Are Tough?


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When things go wrong and a decision needs to be made about how to right the wrong, is this your shining moment?

A Zane’s customer was paying on layaway for a special bike she was planning to give her husband for a surprise Valentine’s Day gift. Greg, a Zane’s employee, was supposed to display that particular bike in the store window on Valentine’s Day so the customer could stroll past Zane’s with her husband on their way to a romantic dinner.

Things didn’t work out as planned because Greg forgot to display the bike in the window. Zane’s felt horrible about the mistake and apologized to the customer by delivering the bike to her house and forgiving the final payment. After this expression of humility and an apology, Zane’s was forgiven.

The Employee is the Real Key to the Story
Greg decided to make it up to Zane’s. Chris Zane received an apology letter with a check enclosed (which Chris never cashed) for half of the cost of the bike. Greg was willing to be out a week’s pay to right the wrong. He took responsibility for his mistake. His motivation was to live up to what Zane’s stood for.

His actions prove that what Zane’s has is real. The culture stuck when it was most important — throughout decision making under duress. This is because Greg works in an environment where he is encouraged to do the right thing. The recovery of this one customer, while memorable, is not an isolated act of customer heroism, but a usual part of this (and any) beloved company. The cultural instinct to do the right thing and repair broken relationships is genuine and caring.

Where Are You on the “Sorry” Competency Meter?

  • Is your staff clear on how to do what’s right?
  • Do they have permission to act quickly and remedy relationships?
  • Do they know what they are allowed to do? Should do?
  • Do they know what’s really at stake when they are talking to and working with you primary assets—customers!

Does Your Culture Stick? Decide to Say Sorry

Ask around, see if your employees know what customer heroics are possible or allowed. If they have no idea or it varies, fill in the gaps. Think about what you can do for customers, and then provide examples and ideas for your employees to follow. Make it very clear what the employees are allowed to do to make customers happy—even go as far as naming a dollar amount that’s allowable to spend.

Creating a culture that empowers your employees will ultimately lead to positive relationships with lifetime customers. Customers will recognize an empowered employee by their confidence in handling everything from the basics to resolving more complex issues or problems. Gaining lifetime customers will be worth the time it takes to educate your employees on their options. And, like Chris Zane, who forgave a debt due to an error made in his shop, modeling good resolution technique will teach your staff how to be genuine and effective ambassadors for your company.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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