What Message are Your Employees Sending to Your Customers?

What Message are Your Employees Sending to Your Customers?

There’s a local bank here in town that touts itself as a champion and friend of small business. They go out of their way to serve the small business community.

In fact, they even let small businesses use their conference rooms for free (as long as no one at the bank needs them).

Who decided this?

The bank’s president.

He has made this offer to several small business owners, who in turn have told several other small business owners. And so it goes. Now many small business owners know they can call and reserve a room at the bank.

Great, huh? What a welcoming place!

And it is – except when it’s not.

A couple of weeks ago, I called the room reservation guy to make arrangements to use their smallest conference room. “A-OK,” said Preston.”You’re good to go for Thursday from 11 am to 1 pm.”

My client and I arrive, walk upstairs to the assigned room – and see three other people in the conference room. They’ve got papers spread out everywhere.

I head to the nearest associate’s desk and tell her I’m looking for Preston. I explain I had a reservation and that someone is already using the room and I didn’t want to interrupt them or her. I simply wanted to ask Preston if another room might be available.

Nice as pie, I am.

This bank associate huffs, rolls her eyes, and marches over to computer saying, “Preston is in another building. Let me check the reservation calendar. Oh, wait – there’s nothing here with your name on it.”

“Alright,” I say. “Is there another small room we can use? Maybe this room right behind us? It’s empty now and Preston has had me use it in the past.”

The bank associate looks right at me and says to me with a tone bordering on contempt, “You know, we’re not a conference center, Miss.”

And the thing is, I get that. And I hadn’t asked her to help me – all I initially asked for was help locating Preston. I know his job is reserving the rooms. He’s done it for me a dozen times in the past three months and was always pleasant and helpful.

And now I was being treated like a very unwanted interruption. Like a pain in the rear.

As my client and I stood feeling uncomfortable in front of this associate’s desk, I made a decision right then and there to never step foot in that bank again. And that bank’s president’s goodwill? Right out the window.

The moral of this story? The bank’s team was sending me very, very mixed messages and it did not make me feel good. In fact, this one associate made me feel very, very unwanted there.

I challenge you to think long and hard about the messages your team might be sending to customers. Is it the same message every single time that says, “We’re delighted you’re here”? Or is it based on that employee’s whim, wishes, and attitude that day? Do your customers feel invited, welcomed, and wanted – or do they get the impression they are an unwanted interruption?
You might ask your customers and your employees. Prepare to be surprised.
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