When shopping the other day, I couldn’t find one of the things that I was looking for.
As such, I did what I thought was the most sensible thing to do – I asked the nearest person wearing the store’s uniform about where I could find what I was looking for.
The answer I got was a bit disappointing.
Here it is, verbatim:
“I don’t know. It’s not my job. I’m just cleaning here.”
With the last word said, the person went straight back to wiping the floor.
Of course, the lady didn’t have to know where I could find the thing that I was looking for. She also can’t be blamed for the answer she gave me – when she applied for her job, the ad likely said something along the lines of “cleaning staff needed.”
However, she certainly should have been trained better by her company.
She should have been trained about how to answer customers’ questions. About how to provide customers with the right answers when possible, and about how to direct customers to the right people for questions that she doesn’t have the answer for.
She should have been taught that as an employee in the store’s uniform, she is not only there to clean, but also to represent the company and to provide the store’s customers with a pleasant shopping experience.
In fact, she should have been taught that she is there mainly to represent the company and to provide the store’s customers with a pleasant shopping experience, and that it just so happens that the main way she would be doing that would be by making sure the store was immaculately clean.
Regardless of whether it’s cleaning staff, employees whose “sole job” is to stock shelves, cashiers, or – for that matter, – staff at any other position that customers have a chance to approach, they are all your frontline staff.
They all represent your company.
They are all there to provide your customers with a pleasant shopping experience.
Since they are likely to be seen by your customers, assume that they will be asked questions by them as well.
But, don’t assume that they will know how to respond in a way that will not hurt your brand, in a way that will delight your customers.
Instead, train them.
Train them to understand their role in the store overall, not just their main task.
Train them that “it’s not my job” is not an answer.
Train them to say “I don’t know, but let me find someone that can help you.”