Some service failures are hard to believe.
It's not just the problem itself. It's the fact that employee after employee either fails to notice it or fails to fix it.
Here's an example. This picture was taken in a small market and deli. Just in case the color throws you off, these are Valencia oranges.
Notice the mold on the two oranges at the top of the picture. Disgusting. It shouldn't happen, but it did. The real question is why?
I explored several potential root causes in my book, Service Failure. They range from apathy to employees being so focused on their individual tasks they fail to see the big picture.
There's one big reason that stands out at this market: management.
Here are a few more observations about the market with the moldy oranges:
- There were at least five employees on duty when I spotted this.
- I told the employee behind the deli counter who shrugged and did nothing.
- I had to tell a second employee before someone took care of it.
This reveals a few things.
One is that at least some of the employees on duty didn't believe the fruit bin was their responsibility. Either they chose to ignore the problem or their lack of care caused them to miss it. It's a manager's duty to instill a clear sense of responsibility amongst employees.
Another issue is inattentiveness. The oranges had clearly gone unchecked for several days. It's a manager's role to make this attention part of the procedure. Somebody should be checking the merchandise.
I've written about this before. In one instance, multiple employees missed an obvious problem because none of them were paying attention to the big picture.
Another one was about an inexplicably dirty hotel room. The comments from hotel professionals were particularly interesting.
It's easy to write-off problems like this. It couldn't happen to you, right? Perhaps not. But, the best customer service leaders are constantly checking just in case.
Customer service managers should ask themselves a few questions.
- Do you have any moldy oranges in your organization?
- Are employees on the lookout for these sorts of problems?
- Do people know what to do if they see one?