Shrug Off Apathy: Employee’s Indifference a Business Killer
I used to have a little cartoon from the paper that said “Shrug off Apathy.” How ironic, I’d chuckled, as I snipped it from the paper, and yet so many of today’s workers in the retail and food service environments have an attitude that is just this side of apathetic. Some would call it “indifference.” My dad would have quipped, “You seem to have mistaken me for someone who cares.”
In reading a recent post by Steve Curtin, I am reminded of the impression an indifferent or apathetic employee leaves with customers. Steve tells the tale of taking his young family to Dairy Queen for a much anticipated special treat. The employee’s face, in constrast to that of his young children, is serious to the point of sour.
After we placed our order, my son Cole (age 9) and I waited off to the side for our order while the rest of the family found a place for us to sit on the patio.
I asked Cole, “On a zero to ten scale with zero being rude and ten being very friendly, how would you rate the girl who took our order?”
He said, “Six.”
I asked him why he rated her a six and he said, “Because she didn’t smile.”
I then asked him, “Was there anything else?”
And he said, “Yes, but I can’t put my finger on it.”
What Cole couldn’t put his finger on (because he’s only in third grade) is the leading cause of customer dissatisfaction: indifference.
People buy from those they like and trust – not those who sneer or seem to reject them with their lack of interest. How can we ever hope to build relationships with our customers if our front-line employees shower them with a full dose of indifference?
Steve goes on to say:
In one survey, 68 percent of customers said they quit doing business with a company because of perceived indifference towards them as customers.
And here’s what is really scary: Most customer service providers are blissfully unaware of their own indifference. From their perspectives, they are efficiently executing customer transactions.
So what’s a business to do? Three things immediately come to mind:
Listen. Listen. Listen.
Listen to your customers. Listen to your employees. Listen to your gut instinct. Conduct random customer calls to see how they’d rate the service. Really listen to what they have to say. When a customer complains – don’t assume they were in the wrong – really listen to what they have to say. Like Steve’s son Cole, they might not be able to articulate the problem but they just know that your company won’t be able to meet their needs based on the fact that they didn’t feel cared for or valued or even visible!
Do your employees have an attitude of indifference?