Can your staff think?

Often times I find the staff of businesses don’t know how to think beyond pre-described processes. When they get a question outside the norm, they just seem to shut off their brain, resulting in either no sales where there could have been one, or elongating the buying process if they could just think.

OfficeMaxI was in OfficeMax the other day and found an item on the clearance rack that I wanted. I proceeded to the checkout counter knowing it wasn’t priced, so I asked the cashier.

“This was in the clearance area but there’s no price. Can you tell me the how much is the clearance price?”

“Sure. Let me scan it. The scan says 1 cent so that means I can’t sell it.”

“Well, it’s on the clearance rack and I’d like to buy it.”

“But the register isn’t giving me a price.”

“Well, the item is clearly for sale.”

“When it comes up as 1 cent it means it should be destroyed.”

“Well, it is in good shape and I’d buy it if I could get a price. Could the manager help?”

“I’ll call him over.”

He came over, I explained the situation, he came up with a price. How hard was that?

Why did it take my prodding the cashier to get her to see the illogic of her argument. Here is an item on the clearance table in good shape, but because her system brings up a “must destroy” price she can’t sell it to a willing customer? If that was too much for her to think through, couldn’t she immediately think to call in her manager?

Are you making it difficult for your customers to buy what they want to buy because your systems and non-thinking employees are preventing customers from parting with their money?

I encourage you to aggressively eavesdrop on your front-line employees to see if they are thinking or just reciting “policy” drivel — even when it makes no sense for the situation.

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