I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard those words come out of a client’s mouth. And when do we hear it the most? When someone gets a low-scoring quality inspection report, a less-than-favorable customer survey, or an online review that you hope other customers will miraculously fail to see.
“That’s not fair.”, “We were slammed.”, “That’s a really busy time of year.” “Why do they come when things are so crazy?”
The idea of not measuring your customer experience simply because things are busy is kind of a silly premise. One of the main objectives of establishing standards and training staff to meet them is so that an expectation of performance is established. We expect our staff to perform consistently and we have standards to communicate to them that certain behaviors, skills, policies, and procedures are a non-negotiable part of doing business. Simply put, when you choose not to measure your customer’s experience, simply because its “busy” you are, in essence, pre-emptively negotiating with your standards. The same standards you established in the first place to achieve consistency. Now whether or not you communicate these advantageous breaks to your staff is another question, but the principle remains the same.
To be fair, there are situations when conducting a quality inspection might be ill-timed. From a provider’s perspective, we never want to displace a paying customer in exchange for a non-revenue hotel room, dinner, or other product or service. Furthermore, our Analysts are trained to never intentionally cause undue stress to staff members. As an extreme example, if an Analyst walks into a restaurant and there’s a kitchen fire, they’ll likely comment on it in their report, and simply return later to complete the evaluation in a more normalized operating environment. Some more common examples would be approaching an employee that is handling a legitimate customer complaint or an employee who appears to be temporarily overwhelmed due to a short-term business demand (short staffed, customer health/safety issue, etc.). After all, that’s only fair. To that end, we don’t manufacture complaints or other issues to “test employees”, unless it is directly required as part of the evaluation. We will never compromise a legitimate customer’s experience to complete an evaluation. In some instances, although rare, we’ve even aborted entire evaluations simply because we didn't think the information would provide a clear picture of a typical customer experience.
Now that a disclaimer and some insight into our business practices are out of the way, the main point remains the same. It is just as important (if not more important in certain instances) to evaluate the experience you’re providing to your customers during busy times as it is when things are bit more subdued. Adjusting your operations to accommodate more people is not only smart, but absolutely necessary to meet the demands of a larger audience. There’s a lot to be gained from evaluating your staff’s performance during various business cycles. During your slower periods, learn how employees are engaging and spending time with customers when they have the luxury of doing so. A normal operating environment gives you the best idea of how your staff performs when things are going right, or when there’s plenty of time and resources to rectify things when they don’t. But evaluating your staff’s performance during your most demanding and lucrative periods gives you some incredibly valuable insight into not only how standards are upheld, but more importantly, how well your team thinks on their feet and makes decisions when things aren't so black and white. After all, a staff that knows how to think and make decisions is better for everyone.
How would you react if one of your employees said “I’m not going to smile and greet our customers today because it’s busy.”? Don’t say the same thing to them.