How to Stop Giving Customer Service Like a Useless Scarecrow


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The lowly cornfield scarecrow hangs idly in the field while a flock of birds, having long since gotten over their fear of the fake man, eat their share of the surrounding crops. He has failed in his mission. The scarecrow now serves no purpose and has outlived its usefulness. Sadly, it serves as a reminder of what once was. Today’s post tells you how to stop giving customer service like a useless scarecrow.

3 Examples of Scarecrow Customer Service

1. Just Hangs There and Does Little

Like a useless scarecrow, some employees serve little purpose too. These are the deadwood employees hired in a desperate attempt to quickly fill open positions and with little regard to their qualifications. These employees have no idea how to act when things go astray and have even less motivation to improve. Sure, the company has tried to enhance their skills through training and compassionate management (I know, that’s a strange phrase), but they seem to do the bare minimum at best and show little progress. Like the scarecrow, it’s time to find replacements.

2. Faded and Worn Out

We’ve all seen those old scarecrows with their arms lacking straw, torn sun-bleached clothing, and maybe even missing a limb or two. What a sad sight they are. I doubt any bird would have much respect for that old-timer on a stick. The same goes for your employees.

Some companies have a strictly enforced dress code while others, either because of a lack of funds or attention to detail, let the employees decide what to wear. Example:

Restaurant A has their servers wear crisp white shirts with high-quality black pants, all provided by a rental uniform company that returns weekly with replacements.

Restaurant B lets their employees pick their own clothing, as long as the shirt is white and the pants black. Some shirts have pointed collars while some are button-down and oversized. Regarding the black pants, well, you can imagine them wearing varying shades of black with some being baggy, some skintight, and others somewhere in between. One engaging young man meant well and purchased a nice pair of tuxedo pants – you know, the one with the satin stripe down the leg. Sure, he looked the best but stood out like a sore thumb compared to the others.

Do Customers Care About Employee Uniforms?

Some of you may say, “As long as the restaurant food takes good, I don’t care about their uniforms”. That’s understandable. But what the throngs of customers who DO care about the appearance of the staff? What impression are they left with? Aren’t the employee uniforms part of the overall customer experience? Some may say that if the business doesn’t care about the appearance of their employees, what else don’t they care about?

The Career Cookbook states it this way. “Uniforms are immediate visual representations of your brand. From the moment a customer enters, he or she encounters a combination of colors, shapes, or text that he or she immediately associate with your brand. A consistent look is also crucial for franchises. A familiar look-and-feel tells customers that it’s the same brand they know and trust. Product consistency, after all, is part of the customer experience. Uniforms subtly convey that employees can provide the same warm accommodation and product knowledge, no matter which location they work in.”

3. Blows In the Wind

As time goes by, the scarecrow comes loose from its moorings. Its arms flail, the shirt flutters, and it changes its direction depending on the wind. The fake man once had a purpose and was steady in his significance. He knew what to do and when to do it. He had a singular focus. But no more.

Some of today’s businesses have lost their focus too. Their once well-trained team also knew what to do and when to do it. But with a flurry of management changes, the direction also changed. Not because the company changed their policies or procedures but because some new managers decided there were other more important things than maintaining standards.

The best employees worked hard to uphold expectations and maintain company standards, but they were the exception. Others, ruled by their own self-interest, took advantage of the lax management oversight and changed their interest just as the scarecrow changed their direction. One day they would do as expected. The next day, well, who knows what to expect. Standards were rarely upheld, and this led to customer disappointment and a lack of consistent service.

Key Takeaways to Prevent Scarecrow Customer Service

  • Be Quick to Act When Something Goes Wrong. A great team is well-versed in what to do and when to do it, especially under trying situations. Those who fail to act or expect others to do the work will only sacrifice the service.
  • First Impressions Count in Everything We Do. Don’t think that a subpar appearance can be offset by some other feature you’re prouder of. Customers notice our shortcomings. They may not point them out to you, but they do make up the overall customer experience.
  • 6 Best Ways to Maintain Company Standards
    1. Take time to hire the best possible employees who share your expectations of high quality and service.
    2. Provide ongoing training that also focuses on how each task fits the company mission.
    3. Set benchmarks for quality, speed of production, best practices, and how to address customer concerns.
    4. Continually reinforce proper procedures and policies with direct management oversight.
    5. Evaluate, test, and critique the work performed.
    6. Maintain an open communication channel for employees to address concerns.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve DiGioia
Steve uses his 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry to help companies and their employees improve service, increase morale and provide the experience their customers' desire. Author of "Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You're a Bad Waiter" and named an "ICMI Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leader" and a "Top Customer Service Influencer" by CCW Digital, Steve continues his original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on his popular blog.


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