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"Cook much?"

by JoAnna Brandi.

I donít cook much. Iíve taken to eating a lot of salads. Youíd be surprised; people actually forget how to cook when they havenít done it for a while. Itís the timing that always gets me. So, last week when I went into the upscale fresh food market thatís conveniently located across the street from my chiropractor, I had a few questions to ask the butcher. Actually, I think he was just dressed as a butcher.

I choose to buy some chicken for dinner and was looking at the tempting array of options that included some chicken kabobs. I inquired as to how long one might cook them on the barbeque, 'I donít know' was accompanied by all the appropriate body language to convince me he really didnít.

'I know itís hard to tell someone how to cook something on a barbeque,' I offered. 'I donít expect that you would know the exact time since every grill is different, but could you give me an idea of how long you mght cook them for?'

'Nope, my parents do all the cooking.'

'I guess that means you donít know how long the chicken cutlets take then, huh?' 'Nope.'

I couldnít help but smile. I thought it was funny, the kind of funny where you shake your head a lot and wonder.

Itís an upscale store and the meat is fancy. The guy that gets me the fish seems to know a lot about fish, so I guess I assumed...

Itís too bad. It damaged my impression of that store and their commitment to their customers. They create a beautiful ambiance, have soft music playing, have wine tastings just about the people are buying dinner and have so many cashiers available, you could pick the one you liked best. How could they forget to make sure their people were trained well behind the counters? A storeís sales can go up substantially when the people behind the counters get engaged with the customers in a positive way.

If they are anything like other retail food establishments Iíve worked with, if they donít make their numbers they will look at labor as a place to 'cut costs.' They might even,

like companies in all industries cut training to 'cut costs.' Itís too bad because when companies think more about creating value than cutting costs they get a bigger return.

If youíre a manager, please make sure you actually observe your staff interacting with customers.

Pay attention and train as you go along. Give feedback clearly and always kindly, using your best communication skills.

Role play in cases where the staff member has to deliver information to a customer

If people donít have the technical skills yet, buddy them up with someone that can mentor them

If you are in a customer facing position, speak up if you need more or better information to do your job well.

Be proactive. If there is a book or tape, or course that you think will help you learn more, ask that it be put in the budget.

Listen carefully, ask questions and learn from those who have the experience.

While usually my experience at that market is positive, last week focused my attention on something negative. I guess I have this thing about having a competent workforce Ė especially in a place where Iím expected to pay a little more. Iím just like you, as a customer I have expectations about the value Iíll get for the price I pay. Your customers are always watching. Itís your job to get better at what you do. If you raise your price even a dollar, youíd better provide more value.

And you know what? In todayís marketplace, even if you reduce your price a dollar, youíd better provide more value. Itís a tough world out there. Get going.

About the Author

JoAnna Brandi is Publisher of the Customer Care Coach(R) a weekly training program on mastering "The Art and Science of Exquisite Customer Care." She is the author of "Winning at Customer Retention, 101 Ways to Keep 'em Happy, Keep 'em Loyal and Keep 'em Coming Back" and "Building Customer Loyalty - 21 Essential Elements in ACTION" she writes a free email tip on customer caring. You can sign up at http://www.customercarecoach.com and http://www.customerretention.com

Tags: Wisdom and Life Skills



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