We are all human and human beings make mistakes.
This is just part of the imperfect nature of living life here on earth.
Because of this, it is important for organizations to take precautionary steps to minimize human error in the workplace.
This concept is what led the quality movement and product manufacturers to embrace quality management as a business practice.
Organizations do this to ensure the safety of its workers, safety in their products as well as a commitment to developing quality products and services that perform the way the customer expected.
Total quality management (TQM) is a business practice that looks at management principles to guide the organization.
Things like leadership, customer experience, process improvement, decisions based on data, employee involvement in decision making, and improvement efforts are all examples of business practices that support a quality environment.
The ultimate goal of a TQM organization is to create products and services, through efficient and effective processes, that are safe, error-free, and exceed the expectations of the paying customer.
To do this, organizations write policies and procedures, train employees on expected behaviors and compliance with procedures, and monitor performance.
This helps to ensure that the employee is doing what is expected of them, in the manner that the organization requires.
Having a policy that is not enforced is, in many cases, worse than having no policy at all. The reason being, it creates confusion in the workplace.
If one employee is diligently following procedures and protocol, and another is deliberately, or carelessly, skipping steps, there is no consistency in practice resulting in products and services that may vary greatly.
For example, I recently took my small dog Maggie to get groomed.
I have been using the same groomer for six months.
I was thrilled with the way this groomer cared for Maggie and cut her hair.
I willingly paid a little more than average for this service because of the good job that was done.
Well……Maggie had an appointment Saturday, and unbeknownst to me, a second groomer had been hired and was given Maggie to groom.
I should have taken the clue when the pet salon called me to asked about clipping notes in Maggie’s chart.
When I picked her up, I immediately noticed that her face was not trimmed the way it usually was and asked them to fix the errors.
But the biggest surprise to me was that they shaved her tail! She is a Shih Tzu and the fluffy tail is part of their look.
The hair was all gone.
I took Maggie home and tried to get over it but the more I looked at her the more disappointed I was in the cut, and particularly the high price I paid for it.
I called the salon the next day to express my concerns. I spoke to the manager (franchise owner) who downplayed the entire incident and suggested that my concerns were “ridiculous”.
I guess part of the reason I called was to see if they had any service recovery policies that might help soften the disappointment and help me get over it.
However, it became very clear that the owner didn’t understand the concept of service recovery.
I was disappointed at the response and just chalked it up to dealing with a small business owner who just didn’t get it.
This example is the exact reason that all businesses should have a written service recovery policy and that all employees understand its intent and are empowered to do what needs to be done to make things right for the customer.
This groomer was clearly learning, and that is ok, but at whose expense?
A service recovery policy simply acknowledges that human error will happen and outlines expectations for employees to make it right with the customer.
Statistics show that a dissatisfied customer, who has a great service recovery experience, is more loyal to the organization than a customer that had a great initial experience.
I guess one of the biggest disappointments in this was that the owner was so flippant with me and offered no solution.
What she failed to understand was that she not only lost a paying customer but she also lost an advocate and salesperson for her business. Something no small business owner wants.
So have your employees been trained on how to recover from a bad service experience?