During a recent trip to a sporting goods super-store I noticed a flier on the counter, which advertised a sale on cross-training shoes. Since I do a lot of walking a worthy shoe discount is always welcome.
I assumed that the shoe department sales people would have a good knowledge and understanding of their sales items. When I inquired about the $39.95 cross-training shoes, which I had seen in their sales flier, the young sales person gave me a quizzical look. I knew this was not a good sign. Then the sales person said that he would have to see the flier and proceeded to get one. As he walked away from me, I noticed that he didn’t seem to be in any rush. In his absence, I thought to myself, Shouldn’t the shoe sales people know what shoes are on sale?
It’s on the cover of the flier – on page one! After what appeared to be a prolonged absence, he returned with the flier in his hand. I pointed to the photo of my preferred shoe and mentioned that I was a size eight and a half. As he walked towards the store room, he stopped, turned, and asked, What size? Eight and a half, I said and he acknowledged my response with an unconvincing head nod.
Returning from the store room empty handed, he confessed that the model was out of stock in my size. Using the flier again I pointed to my next preference only to be asked my shoe size once again. I reiterated my size as he headed back towards the store room. On his way, he stopped, looked back at me and asked, What model is that again? I brought him the flier and pointed to the model a second time.
While walking to the cash register with my son, all I could think about was product knowledge and subject matter expertise. In this case, customers will assume the company is lackluster, lazy, untrained, not interested, perfunctory and inattentive. In business every employee bears an awesome responsibility in conveying energy, enthusiasm, genuine interest and subject matter expertise where they work.
I can not place total blame on the employee, because it is not his fault that management doesn’t insist on the aforementioned positive behaviors as well as subject matter expertise. Employees can and will perform better when management has enough courage to expect the best.