Managing the


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If you’ve read some of my past articles or seen me speak, you may remember some comments regarding the operations-focused company versus the customer-focused company. The following story is an excellent example of a customer-focused company.

The other day I was in Atlanta and had the craving for a big juicy hamburger and fries. I found this restaurant not too far from my hotel. When it came time to pay, the bill came to $6.07. The teenager taking my money, who’s name was Matt, asked me if I had the seven cents. I told him, “No.” Matt said not to worry and he reached into his pocket, counted out seven cents, and said he would take care of it. I said, “Thanks.”

Matt said, “Now you won’t have to jingle all day.” He chuckled, smiled and thanked me for my business.

I couldn’t help but be impressed with this young worker. He somehow knew that his job wasn’t about taking money, but it was about taking care of the customer.

The manager was standing at the door when I walked out, so I stopped to compliment him about Matt. I told the manager what happened and he smiled. The manager told me that he taught his employees to do that. At the start of every shift, he gave each employee a bunch of pennies and nickels and told them to use them anytime a customer was just a few cents over an even dollar amount. He thought it would be a nice thing to do for the customers. He was right.

He told me how he taught the employees to ask questions. For example, when someone has a To-Go order, they ask if they need extra napkins. There were several other examples he shared as well.

It boils down to this. The manager wasn’t just managing the operation. He was managing the customer experience. He was training his employees on more than operations training. He was teaching people skills. All of the employees knew how to do their jobs; cook food, run the cash register, take orders, etc. But they also learned what makes customers happy. Part of this was achieved by teaching the employees to ask the right questions in various situations. Essentially he was teaching good communication skills.

It is all about focusing on the customer, not just the operation. Too many times we get hung up on teaching people the specific things necessary to do their jobs. However, we miss teaching the people skills. For some reason we think people just know what to do. Some do, some don’t. And even the ones that do need to learn how to use them in their present job.

Think about ways you can make your business more customer friendly. Look for
opportunities to show how easy you are to do business with. I call this customer
management. Yes, we need to manage the operations of our business. But without being customer focused, we may not have a business at all.

While I haven’t used this quote in an article before, it is in my book, “Moments of Magic.” But I couldn’t think of a more appropriate quote to go with this article.

“There is only one boss – the customer. Customers can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending their money somewhere else.”
— Sam Walton

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.


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