On the Front Lines.

I often wonder what top executives think about when they implement a policy or a promotion to their business. Is it strictly monetary? Do they consider the customer first? Are they only looking out for the “good of the company?” It has been my observation that a lot of the times, companies fail to think about the people on the front lines.

As an associate, I have virtually no say in the policies or promotions of the company. As an associate that cares deeply about customer service, I probably “take” more control over the policies and promotions than other associates I work for. Why? Because I have a moral compass that points a different direction than most of them. Nothing makes me more upset than a company that fails to consider how a certain decision will impact the lower level in the organization. Unclear about what I am really referring to? Let me give you a general example.

As an associate, you are responsible for assisting customers with their purchases. You are responsible for being very knowledgable about your products, you are responsible for working hard to build customer loyalty, you are responsible for working hard to increase your company’s customer satisfaction rating and you are responsible for working hard to increase the sales of the company. You may be just one of the hundreds of  associates at that company, but the effort you put in is noticeable and is a percentage (although it may be a small one) of your company’s success. However, sometimes I feel that associates are pushed onto the battle field.

Associates are the players for the company’s team that directly interact with the people that determines if your company wins or loses. Associates are on the front lines of battle if a policy or promotion that the top-level executives implemented makes the customer upset. For example, as an associate myself, I am often “raked over the coals” for the exclusions on the coupons, the misleading advertisements, the merchandising standards causing the store to be “cluttered”, etc. I am the person that is left to attempt to interpret the thought process behind the decisions top executives make. This is not an easy task to do because, quite frankly, I am not a mind-reader.

I understand that the executives have reasons behind their decisions. I understand that it is unrealistic to have input from all levels of the organization before making decisions. However, I do think that the bottom level should be considered. Associates should be considered when the “small print” is typed at the bottom of every coupon.

Sometimes I wonder if the CEO of company’s have worked on the front lines.

Thanks for reading!

Brandon.

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5 thoughts on “On the Front Lines.

  1. jroselle says:

    Brandon:

    Many of those CEO’s have had very little exposure on the front lines. They may have had a few hours every summer at their local McDonalds while attending college. But they don’t have much real face to face experience directly with customers. It’s the face to face front line work that seperates the people who truly care about customers from the ones who don’t really care.

    These guys are number crunchers. They spend their days reading reports and holding meetings. All left brain logic stuff. No emotions involved. If they experienced customers they would have to rev up the right brain. Lots of emotion involved. And they are no better at this than anyone else in the organization. Their lack of exposure leads to many bad tactical decisions. They are good at strategy. Strategy is number crunching. They’re not so good at tactics. Tactics, many times, involve emotions.

    Watch the tv show “Undercover Boss”. It’s an excellent program that exposes many of the weaknesses that these CEO’s have.

    Have a nice day.

    • Good insight, as always! Undercover Bosses is actually one of my favorite TV shows because of the simple fact that its CEOs getting a glimpse of how their business is really being ran. Sadly, I don’t think that much of the stuff they see gets changed once the cameras are off. It seems that some of the same problems they encounter on the TV show are still occurring months after it is aired. I think they get caught up in what their competitors are doing, and as long as they are competitive with them, it doesn’t matter how the customers feel or are treated…

      Companies, specifically retail companies, seem to all be doing a good job at putting customers at a disadvantage in a lot of areas. It is almost like they have forgotten who actually keeps the bills paid: their customers. I think big retailers have the mind set that there are soooo many consumers out there, that they don’t have to worry about putting the customer first because us, as consumers, will put up with it. People come to my store, get mad about something, cuss me out and swear to never come back, and then the next weekend they are back buying stuff. Consumers will tolerate too much.

      • jroselle says:

        Brandon:

        You’re right about the changes not being made. But the show is excellent at pointing out the faults. It’s too bad they don’t see what is right under their noses.

        Consumers are starting to have less tolerance for the bad service. That’s why you see all the selling gimmicks being tried. When sales are down it’s the go-to philosphy.

      • I definitely agree! Consumers have a responsibility also, and I think that we put up with too much. I believe that will probably be the topic of a blog post to come from me!

  2. […] 4. On The Front Lines […]

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