If your first response was to think of the CEO, Chairman or some other top person, please pause and think again. I wrote this blog a year ago, but recent experiences in shops and restaurants have prompted me to publish it again.
I went for an eye test, returning to Specsavers in Bromley, where I got my previous specs. I was greeted warmly by Sanchoy, the dispensing opticians whose professionalism last year prompted my return. I told him so and, with a happy laugh, he called out my remarks to the store manager, who said something like, “That’s what we like to hear” and returned to staring out of the door.
Who was speaking for Specsavers?
I contacted a car repair shop to ask about some remedial re-spray work and was told, “We only do MGs, and sometimes some other sports cars. If we want to. We have so much work.”
Would you give them any business?
I rang a well-known organisation that sells things online. When eventually I managed to speak to a person, she told me, in her Sarf Lunnon voice, “If you wanna order anyfink you have to do it online.”
Who was speaking for the company?
When certain organisations started painting “How am I driving?” on their vans, they were trying to integrate every public contact with their expensively created image. They were also, subtly, telling their drivers to behave as representatives of a public-friendly organisation. The message bypassed the Sainsbury driver who was competing aggressively with other traffic this afternoon in Sydenham.
Every single person who is in contact with your public is the one who speaks for your business, and is the one who determines how your business is perceived in the market place. In some ways, more than the Chairman, the MD or CEO, the PR company, or the sales team. Because it is the attitude shown in day-to-day transactions that will matter more than polished presentations or Press Releases.
Every surly shop assistant, every curt telephone manner, every unhelpful tax inspector, reveals a serious training need. In these days of harsh economics, who can afford to ignore it?
The prevailing culture in a company can be determined my a single person. In West Wickham High Street I called at what was once a family-run business, and which was renowned for the helpfulness of everyone there. The owner’s approach had been adopted by all the staff.
Sadly, things have changed. A new culture prevails: not so helpful, weak on welcome, critical of competitors. I kept my wallet in my pocket. They seemed to have little business. Is it any wonder?