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How far will you go for a customer? Outlandish request tests employee’s commitment to customer satisfaction

November 28, 2012

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By George Brown  

When I worked for a certain grocery store chain, we had a challenging employee policy.  Challenging, that is, until they got the hang of it.  The policy was really quite simple, and if you think about it, it actually made the employee’s life rather easy. It was “Never say no to a customer.”  The only person in the store who could say no to a customer was the Store Manager.

Whenever we shared the policy with a new employee during their orientation we would get strange looks and lots of questions. For some it was a policy they feared they couldn’t live up to, and understandably so; saying “no” is a habit we need to learn how—and when—to break.

A YouTube Video of a gentleman who set out to overcome his fear of rejection brought back memories of this policy. Jia Jiang decided that the best way to overcome his fear of rejection was to put himself in situations where the only possible outcome could be rejection. He would request things so outlandish that they would have to reject his request.  They would have to tell him, “You can’t have it.”  They would have to tell him, “You’ll have to live without it.”  They would have to tell him no!

Yet on the third day of his quest/experiment, it all backfired when he met a Krispy Kreme employee who lived by the “Never say no to a customer” creed.

View the video.  Share it with your staff.  Talk about the qualities service employees need to have to meet your customers’ needs. Jiang used words like “interested,” “problem-solver,” “determined” and finally “really good” to describe the service provider he met. You may recognize other qualities as well.

For some the special donut request would seem odd, weird, even ridiculous.  Yet for Jackie Braun, a shift leader at an Austin, TX Krispy Kreme, it was simply a customer request that had to be met.  Her response after thinking it through deeply—but quickly—was “Let me see what I can do.”

If you think what Jackie Braun did was easy, consider this: A study attributed to researchers at UCLA concludes that the average one-year old child hears the word “No!” more than 400 times a day. An exaggeration? Maybe not; consider that when we tell a toddler “No!” we usually have to say “No! No! No!” That’s three (or more) times in three seconds! Whatever the number is, we know an active child hears “No!” mega times every day. Of course it is a good thing for toddlers to learn the meaning of “no” as early as possible (so that they can live to their next birthdays!). But the bottom line is that toddlers from all cultures and across all time lines learn what to do by constantly being told what not to do. Then they grow up and the go to work, and their pattern of speaking and learning is set from their earliest days. By the time they hit the workforce, even if they are very positive, energetic and optimistically focused individuals, they are probably speaking with negative language throughout each and every day without even knowing it!

Jackie Braun never worked at my grocery store chain as far as I know, but somewhere along the line she picked up and absorbed my old employer’s lesson on overcoming the habit of saying “No!”.

Give it a try yourself this week when you are with a customer. See if you can come up with ways to say “No!” to “No!”. Notice how hard it is, but how important it is too.

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