Those of you who are regular readers of my blog (yes all one of you!) may well remember me reflecting on the time I was rebuked by a customer for not offering a cheery enough greeting when I answered my phone. My defence was that it was probably my nth 100th call of the day where I’d be no doubt called upon to go through the same conversation yet again, once again offering carefully measured empathy and reassurance, while again trying to avoid the verbal beating the customer may wish to dispense in retribution for their unhappy dealings with the firm I’m representing at that moment in time.
Whilst all this is going on I’m wondering if I’ll get a pay-rise this year, if my call time is going to be too high, can I hold out going to the toilet until the next break, will that angry customer from earlier be calling back to complain about me? I’m also acutely aware that with my employers my opinions count for very little and that my influence over things is accordingly somewhere slightly below zero. In employment terms I feel like a rower in the bowels of a vast Roman ship. Whilst I may not be physically chained to the oars, metaphorically and mentally I am. Sorry if I’m not overjoyed about this.
So it’s nice to see somewhere that’s at least recognising that it can and should be different and whats more that this is ultimately beneficial for companies.
I’m talking here about Nando’s the high-street chicken chain. Recently voted the best big company to work for. As a newspaper article pointed out:
Another very important part of the formula is that staff are treated well – in 2010, Nando’s topped the Sunday Times’ list of best big companies for whom to work. Employees seem fairly jolly, which increasingly stands out in the deskilled, demotivated, underpaid and undertrained British high street.
This is precisely my argument. Often we experience poor customer service from staff who are disinterested. Our first reaction however, is to blame the staff some of us going as far to lodge a complaint. We ignore the system which causes the problem in the first place; namely companies poor treatment and disinterest in the staff themselves. To expect staff, often facing challenging situations, to maintain a front of jollyness and empathy whilst themselves being subject to untold pressures and offered little in the way of support is quite clearly unreasonable.