It’s not the economy, it’s the employees
Published: Sep 30, 2013
“The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour,” (Japanese proverb).
Truer words were never spoken.
The Great Recession of 2008 put more Bahamians on unemployment lines than store lines.
The economy is still sputtering half a decade after the downturn, and during that time I have had the displeasure of witnessing double-digit unemployment, mass layoffs, parents pulling their children out of private schools, families losing their homes and employees being overworked and underpaid. Stagnant salaries have become the order of the day and promotions a rarity.
Businesses that I frequented as a child and as an adult have closed their doors permanently. It’s a sobering reality for many of our citizens. Those fortunate enough to still have jobs have gotten even more discriminating when it comes to how and where they spend their hard-earned dollars. I happen to be one of those people. Prior to 2008, my purse had a mind of its own. These days I call the shots. I am one of those people who believes in shopping at home and keeping our dollars in circulation rather than blowing it all in the U.S. Unfortunately, many of the workers who depend heavily on my dollars don’t value my decision.
What I’m about to say may sound cold and mean-spirited, but I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. The Great Recession didn’t hit some businesses hard enough. If it did, we would have had improved customer service in this country and more workers acting as if they value their jobs. Frontline workers can make or break a business, which is why I strongly believe that it is the workers – and not solely the economy – who are killing some businesses.
Frontline employees are the first people we encounter the minute we walk through the front door. I have had the displeasure of patronizing these stores and I have had it. I’m fed-up with workers acting as if they are doing me a favor by serving me. I’m fed-up with workers not addressing me the moment I enter the door. I’m fed-up with seeing these same employees huddled in a corner talking about the latest episode of Basketball Wives while I wait for one of them to serve me. Ladies and gentlemen, I do not take kindly to being referred to as “sweet girl” so please do not address me or any other female customer as such. When dining out, I don’t want my waiter to ask my husband, “Soldier, what you getting?” To my knowledge my husband has never served in the army. The proper question is, “Sir, what may I get you this evening?”
The economy may be taking a toll on some establishments, but I firmly believe that their horrible employees are taking an even bigger toll because they are turning away the few customers who are patronizing certain businesses.
It appears to me that many owners and managers have no clue how their employees treat their customers. I am the type of customer who can kill a business. I say this because it’s rare for me to point out a worker’s shortcomings unless it’s absolutely egregious. If I’m disgusted by the service, I walk out saying nothing and I simply don’t return. I then tell everyone I know to steer clear of that business. The best customer you can possibly have is a complaining customer. He or she allows you to at least remedy the situation.
Businesspersons need to do more rigorous screening of potential employees. Don’t be so desperate to hire cheap labor that you end up hurting your business in the long run by hiring people who don’t care about your company or like dealing with members of the public. It’s not worth it.
To those bad apples who give horrible service, I want you to know that you are ultimately jeopardizing your own careers. When customers walk through the door they want to see teeth and dimples not scowls and furrowed brows. Be as kind, attentive and helpful as possible. Know your product. The words “I don’t know” will kill your business.
I am a firm believer in giving criticism and praise equally. Therefore, let me commend the following establishments for giving me great service: Crave Studio Deli, Baha Retreat, Liquid Nutrition, Confidence Insurance, Quality Supermarket and Dr. Pamela Carroll. There are many other places that have given me great service, but these places stand out in my mind. The employees have always been friendly, helpful, respectful and they know their product/service. Therefore, they will continue to get my hard-earned dollars.
You bad establishments – and you know who you are – should contact these business owners and ask them their tips for dealing properly with customers.
Here ends the reading.
– Rogan M. Smith