Yesterday, while working in my home office, workers from a local store came to install a new appliance. I overheard a shocking conversation that struck me as inappropriate. I selected a typical excerpt, and posted it on my personal Facebook page to see what conversation would ensue. I was not disappointed. This was an interesting exchange that touched on the balance between ideal solutions, practical solutions, and the dances of communication and service.
I changed the names, as well as the specific appliance, to protect the parties and prevent a commentary on a specific business or person. It is helpful to know from the start that “Pat” works for/with the employees involved. There is no “debrief” at the end; this will stand on its own. Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas!
Bobby Jennings: Definitely be sure to write a letter to the owner of the company of the store manager of the corporate chain (IE: Sears, Home Depot, etc…) That’s beyond inappropriate.
Pat Slick: OMG Tell Lance to pipe it down LOL
Pat Slick: Lance does MMA fighting
Pat Slick: I really dont think there is anything bad about two installers having a conversation as long as their working.
Alan Feirer: I feel so much better knowing its about MMA!
Pat Slick: lol
Pat Slick: on the other hand Alan, I was glad to see you made the jump to ACME brand.
Alan Feirer: Always ACME for this kind of appliance. Durable and simple.
Pat Slick: i agree.
Annie Spece: Nice, just what you want to hear……….
Alan Feirer: Bobby, someday I am visiting you at your store. I promise.
Sally Kerrey: Nice…watch your back!
Harvey Stefano: Alan, we are still remodeling our kitchen, and yet, your story is better than any we have heard.
My Mom: be sure he’s gone by the time I arrive – don’t want him jumping out from behind the heater.
James Hendricks:I have to chime in on this having spent the last 30 years in customer service as a technician, customer service manager, customer service trainer and now a business owner. That the installer is an MMA fighter is irrelevant in this situation. What Alan heard was that the guy in his house, who is representing whatever company he works for, assaulted someone by jumping on them and choking them til they passed out. He feels better that he knows he was talking about MMA, but in most cases, he would not have found that out. The employee needs to be counseled because conversations like this can reflect poorly on him and the company he represents and can cause loss of business. It may save his job to watch what he decides to converse about while on the job – especially in someone’s home. I’ve seen employees let go for what they’ve said in a customer location.
Alan Feirer: James Hendricks, that’s exactly what I think when I’m wearing my consultant hat. Totally. If a client of mine had that situation, I’d advise exactly as you prescribe.
When I wear my consumer hat, I think “I’m shopping locally – I know Frank [the non-fighter] – this business is a fellow Chamber of Commerce member – they’re not a big box store – I will forgive. But I’m glad my daughter isn’t home. And I’ll put it on my personal [not business] Facebook as a cautionary tale.”
Tyra Reasoner: Alan, you should tell the guy how you feel yourself. What if you tell the company and he gets fired? Things are rough out there right now and it’s so close to the holidays. I agree with it being wrong, but we all need to show a little more tolerance and a lot more kindness and HELP one another out. I think you should deal with this directly.
Tyra Reasoner: ooops. I see my post is too late.
Alan Feirer: Tyra – no worries. To be totally clear, the company knows – because Pat works there. He won’t get fired. He seems to be a pretty good worker.
Because Frank – the “man in charge” – was very familiar with me when entering, it might have seemed to the younger man that it was okay to talk very openly. He misjudged the appropriateness, to be sure, but Frank never corrected him.
Tyra Reasoner: that’s good. Hopefully that will never happen again. : )
Alan Feirer: continuing…
Why wasn’t I more direct with him? Now, I DID tell him that I was “kind of freaked out” until I realized the MMA thing. But I soft-pedaled it. To be more direct would have caused unneeded tension with Frank, who is someone I’ve done business with before, and will do business with again. I also have learned that sometimes I need to take off my “consultant hat” – I can be intense sometimes, and too frequent critique around people I see more than once can put them “on edge”, and I don’t want to disrupt connections.
Am I overthinking this? Perhaps. Would the young man be wise to ponder this himself? Totally.
Is all this very interesting? I think so. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing for a living now. Words matter, customer service matters, communication matters, connections matter, leadership matters, shopping locally matters. It’s all important.
All this reaction, from Pat to Bobby to James to Tyra — exactly the sort of discussion I was hoping for. And it doesn’t have to end just because I’ve now posted a long comment!
Tyra Reasoner: You are a good guy Alan.
James Hendricks:This is a good discussion because customer service can make or break a company. I conducted customer service seminars for my previous employer. This would have been a great example of what not to do.
Part of the class explained that people in general will tell 2 people about a great customer service experience, but they’ll tell 10 about a bad experience. This was before social media, though. Alan has 1430 FB friends who have potentially read this. Fortunately the situation was worked out in the end and the business name was not mentioned in his post. Had this situation happened with someone else, it could have been devastating, especially to a small business.
To respond to Tyra as to Alan F confronting him, put yourself in place of the customer. When you hear someone say they jumped on a guy’s back and choked him till he passed out, that’s not the type of person you would want to confront. I know I wouldn’t want to.
These are tough times and no one wants to see anyone lose their job. I’m sure the installer had no bad intentions and probably didn’t even think anyone was listening. That’s why it’s important that his employer know about it so they can help him keep his job by telling him how important it is to watch what you say in customer locations.
As a manager, I would get calls like this “I don’t want to get _____ in trouble, but this happened and I thought you should know.” I always thanked them for calling and let them know that I would discuss the issue with the employee so that we could do a better job. Many times you would discuss the situation with the employee and they had no idea that there was a wrong impression given. It may have just been how they chose to communicate.
You can probably tell that I am passionate about this subject. It sounds like someone knows the person, and it would probably be good for him to read this thread.
If the guitar business ever goes south, maybe I’ll be a customer service consultant, but hopefully that doesn’t happen. The guitar business is much more fun.
Tyra Reasoner: to James H. ~ my response was only given this situation and what I heard. I was afraid if his employer heard about him saying that in front of a customer he WOULD get fired. I was worried they may not know or take into consideration the mma fighting. Otherwise, obviously, you wouldn’t confront somebody after hearing them say that if you didn’t know that they did MMA, or maybe even if you knew they did, but maybe CONFRONT isn’t the right word. lol. I agree with you James H. about customer service. Unfortunately, sometimes the person who handles the complaints handles it wrong. I just hate miscommunications. Luckily this wasn’t the case. BTW ~ may the guitar business never go south. : )
Hercules Johnson: Save it for the truck ride lol