Feel the awesome power. No one is immune to the roar you create. Make it dominate all their senses at once. You might think I’m about to talk about the Drag Races this Sunday, but you’d be wrong. I’m talking in the style of How-To management books.
Ya’ see, a long time ago, when it took a week to send a text. Managers did what they thought was best. If it worked, or they had rich parents, they were successful, and wrote long letters to their girlfriends which have now been archived. If not, they fell into obscurity, since there was no Facebook for them to complain about it for the next ten years. How did those people survive?
Today we are so connected we do nothing unless we ask a few hundred other people how. As a result. there are How-To books on just about everything. I’m not kidding. The other day I saw a book on how to go to the bathroom. I would have though this would have been self-evident. But, I guess, without the book you really don’t know if you’re doing what is scientifically most efficient. What does this have to do with running a company? It falls under time-management.
Anyway, with all these overly researched books out there, a new manager can confidently read for six months, bring all those ideas to his company, only to find out the placed closed a month ago because he hadn’t done any actual work for half a year. The thing is He could have saved himself all this trouble by reading only one, then throwing it away, and doing what he was hired to do. His boss was confident in him, he should be as well.
There is another interesting thing about these books as well. They are all thoroughly investigated, so in the end they’re all the same. We might ask, why do they all exist? Simply because, in this electronic age, everyone is so afraid of screwing up, we all want an edge. And self-help authors are very willing to sell as many books as it takes to make darn sure everyone believes they have one. The issue, I have as the customer, is so many of the things they tell managers to do, are annoying. To illustrate this, let me tell you about my recent trip to my favorite corporate coffee shop.
The first thing books say is to greet all customers with a smile. This sounds good, but it has limitations. The second I opened the door to my local bistro I was inundated with every smiling employee yelling from wherever they may be. “Welcome to FourBucks!” This would be great if it were one person and they were actually looking at me. The way it was done, made me truly believe they were all robots. Some sci-fi folks might think androids are cool. For me, Not So Much. Another thing which might have helped would be if they all said it at the same time. Not like a perverse version of Row Row Row Your Boat.
Then again, they might be trying to make me think I’m on the red carpet in Hollywood. If this is the case then I have a message for corporate headquarters. “What kind of fools are you? I know where I am. I just want to get a cup of overpriced coffee and get out of here. This is not Beverly Hills and I am not going to peruse your establishment for four hours.”
The next stupid book trick, from the happy-customer toolbox is; The cashier is supposed to get to know me. This can be way too infuriating for words. They want to know how’s my day, what’s the weather like, do I have any pets, what brand of toothpaste I use, boxers or briefs, and so on. Pretty much everything except, what I want from the menu. They might want to know me, but judging from the piercings, various hair colors, and large numbers of even larger tattoos, I really don’t want them to know who I am.
After that comes the name game. They get my name by either looking at my card or asking for it outright. Then it becomes a contest to say “Mr. Ohh!” as many times as possible before I leave the store. Who thought of this? For their information it does not make me comfortable. In fact, it’s really really creepy. It’s like the old horror movies were Igor says, “Yes Master,” after every third word. Shut up already and give my gosh darn coffee! Oh, how I wish for the days of bad service when all I said was “Gimme some coffee. The answer was “K.” And I left with a hot cup in my hands.
Now here’s something which may or may not be in the corporate playbook; The tip jar. Now, I understand tipping servers for exceptional service. But what’s that got to do with here? I ask for coffee. They pour coffee. I pay for coffee. And I leave with coffee. There’s actually not much else. Then again, if I’m supposed to tip for their friendliness, well I didn’t see the cost for that on the menu, and frankly I didn’t order any social banter.
In point of fact, I always know what I want before I come in; Coffee. This being said, why do I have to consistently listen to a litany of suggestions for half an hour? When I come in, I buy a drink. Occasionally, I throw caution to the wind and order a muffin, or other food item. But that’s the exception not the rule. I honestly do not need them to recite the entire menu, in question form, every single visit. Boy I’m glad I got that off my chest.
Moving away from the cashier I have to go to the pick-up area. In olden time this would have been a small window. Now however, windows are a no-no. Big-shots want me to see everything. So, I stand, by a small shelf, gawking at all the workers as if they were in some kind of a zoo. I’m about ready to put up a “Do Not Feed The Baristas” sign. Of course, everyone who comes anywhere near me is required to tell me “Hello” again. This might not be so bad except for the one girl who makes the drinks for the on-line orders. She’s very fast and probably very good at her job, but she’s a tad forgetful. Consequently, every time she drops one off, she says, “Hi” again and again like some broken record. When I was there last time, I swear she greeted me no less than seven times while I was waiting for a breakfast sandwich.
I might be better able to deal with all this if it were only one place. But it’s everywhere. Banks, restaurants, quick marts, and stores of all sorts, are doing these silly procedures. I think I’ll have to write my own book. I’ll probably call it, How To Improve The Customer’s Experience By Eliminating Customer Service. Well, what do you think?