With the all important-for-retailers 4th quarter just half a quarter off, and with the newest, hottest Fall fashions about to hit the runways in Milan, New York and Huxley, I thought it would be a good time to give you some great tips on how your company can lose 145 pounds, and get itself in customer service shape, just like I did.
Yep. I'm 145 joint-destroying pounds lighter than I was, about 12 years ago - weighed at the time on industrial strength scales normally reserved for fishing ports.
My weight came off in fat (and a lot of other horrible stuff you can see close-up if you flip your TV remote any hour of the day to TLC). A company's excess weight comes off only one way: getting rid of an employee.
I'm Italian, so let me make sure we all understand that I'm talking about firing an employee.
Companies gain weight i.e. under-customer service performing employees, just like I did: incrementally. They hire for skills, instead of happiness. They let the employee get away with sub-standard customer service skills because "they're just so darn good at (fill in the blank)." They allow that unhappy employee to spray their unhappiness, unchecked, on their unassuming co-workers. The good employees eventually either quit and move on, or stay on but decide to give in to the growing peer pressure to under-perform. They're not doing their job. Why should I?
Pretty soon, an office or retail setting that was once vibrant, happy and healthy, is now bloated, sullen and unresponsive to shoppers. And all because of the actions of ONE employee.
I say it in training, I say it when I do motivational presentations, and I've said it in this blog: one employee can hold an entire company hostage.
Just like I allowed food to hold me hostage for most of my adult life.
The breakthrough for me came in 1998, when I stepped my wheezing frame onto the cheap white weigher in my bathroom, and saw the scale's roulette wheel stop on 320.
I suddenly became aware of the fact that the scales "only" went up to 330. I was 10 pounds away from having to do math in my head to figure out my weight, because the measuring apparatus had run out of numbers.
A 12 year odyssey for me, sprang from that epiphanal moment - of ghastly missteps and horrific failures, of self-loathing and self-mutilation, of suicidal thoughts and homicidal dreams, of tossing away opportunity as fast as it was handed to me, of watching myself slowly slip down into a cesspool of my own emotional sewage, unable or unwilling to crawl my way out until, as the water began to rise over my head, and for reasons I still don't understand, I chose to swim, rather than sink.
How I made it out - and how I got in there in the first place - is not for this blog post. For now, let it be enough to know that, for 12 years, I was the kind of employee that I'm recommending be fired, and that I'm now hired to find and ferret out, freeing up the rest, to work, serve and be happy, as God intended.
Mine is the ultimate cautionary tale, for any business owner, or manager or staff member who works alongside the sort of under-achieving, happy-stealing, vibe-killing, skunk-spraying employee that I was. Please, get your company in shape for what could be a rough retail 4th quarter, and give yourself, your co-workers, and your soon to be former, the greatest gift in the world: give up your need to save them, cut them loose, and let them save themselves.
I did. The results speak for themselves. Don't you think?
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT.
Click to email Jonnie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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