It was never in question that Business Acumen is vital for managers, however it is now being increasingly promoted as a need for the employees as well. This couldn’t be truer for the people who are working as frontline employees for the organization.
Those who are in customer service are directly involved in dealing with customers. In today’s world of social media, one small mistake from any of these employees could cost a company its carefully-honed reputation and the brand image that they have built over the years.
The Case of an Unfortunate Employee
Let’s take an example of an unfortunate employee caught in the direct line of fire of a customer’s wrath recently, at a fast food chain.
This customer claimed that she had ordered a box of donuts from their eatery the day before and had paid for it, but didn’t get the receipt for the purchase. Now as a policy of this particular eatery, if a customer claims that he hadn’t received a receipt for what he has ordered, the company provides the entire order free.
But there is a catch. This service is only for that day itself, and that’s exactly what this particular customer was all riled up about: she wanted a free meal for not getting the receipt of a purchase made the day before.
Although her demands were not covered in the company’s policy and the customer service representative politely made it clear that her request would have been perfectly redeemable had she only made it the previous day, the customer was in no mood to budge and kept shouting expletives, racist slurs and abuses at the girl behind the counter, who was at her wits’ end by now.
Finally, the girl’s patience gave in and she started to match word-for-word with the customer. At this point of time, someone in the queue made a video out and posted it on some social networking sites. Those who saw it thought it was the customer service agent who had started the fight and was abusing the customer, which would be anyone’s first impression because the video didn’t have the part where the customer started it all.
It was viewed and reviewed millions of times all over the world causing a major embarrassment to the company and seriously tarnishing its image of a customer-centric company.
When this video was played at a training session by a manager of the same company, in front of other frontline employees, almost everyone agreed that the customer care representative didn’t necessarily pick up the right thing to do. However, they themselves were found short of ideas when asked how they would have handled a similar situation. This exposed the knowledge of differentiating between right and wrong (common sense) and knowing what to do in this situation so that the company wouldn’t have suffered that way (business acumen).
The best possible alternative for the customer care representative would have been to escalate the issue immediately to a supervisor or shift manager, when she found that the problem was getting out of hand. In fact, many managers deal with situations like these by politely giving the customer what he wants without giving him time to create further ruckus and disturbance.
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