Often companies ignore the importance of empowering staff without “customer service” in their title. They think that the employees who aren’t formally charged with customer interaction don’t need to be customer focused. They usually don’t invest much (any?) time or money to train these people. And they nearly never give them any tools to help ease any customer annoyance.
Imagine my surprise, then, at the customer focus of a Redbox video vending employee named Susan.
When I drove up to the outdoors Redbox, I noticed the door to the vending machine was open. A woman’s tush was all I saw so I waited a moment, then said, “Can I just give this video to you?”
She seemed startled, but friendly. “Sure. Did you want to rent another?” I did. She told me to go ahead and log in on the screen, even though the door was open. It took my request but no video was vended. Susan tried to figure out what was wrong. She called her tech support number. They said to try again. She got out a stack of red cards with free video promo codes on each and handing me 5 said, “I’m sorry for your inconvenience.” Wow!
Another woman walked up but the machine wouldn’t take her return with the door open. She asked if Susan could take the return. Susan said sure, took the video and gave the woman a few free rental cards for her waiting.
I’d used a promo code for a free video but we weren’t sure if I should enter it again. She suggested I call Redbox’s customer service line. I did. Yes, the code was used, so the rep said she’d email me another code. I tried a new code. Success!
Susan peeled off a few more red cards, saying, “I’m really sorry this took so long. Indeed, it had taken 15 minutes to complete a 1-minute transaction. But I wanted to see how this was handled so I stuck around.
Susan was a shining example of how an employee who isn’t supposed to have much customer contact did a stellar job. Was she encouraged by her manager to be generous with the free cards if a customer is inconvenienced? Or did she decide to liberally dole out the cards on her own? I don’t know. She didn’t come across as someone who was slick and well-trained. She was sincere and empathic. Whether it was by nature or training, she delivered more than I expected.
Questions for you:
- How are your back-of-the-house (those who have minimal customer contact) employees treating your customers?
- Do you give them any training, guidance or coaching?
- Do you give them any tools (like free video cards) for easing customer inconvenience?
Would you like more ideas on how your organization can improve its customer service? Get your copy of Remarkable Customer Service … and Disservice: Case Studies and Discussions to Increase Your Customers’ Delight.