October 3

>Hey – Where Did My Favorite Employee Go?

>Last week I stopped by to drop off my dry cleaning, and my favorite customer service representative popped up to the desk and said “Well tell me goodbye and good luck!”  I said goodbye and good luck? Why? Are you leaving? She said yes, and I am so excited. It has been my dream my whole life (she is about 55) to live in Arizona and I have decided to follow my dream.

As she checked me out, we had a great conversation about how excited she is, but how hard it is to leave this area and all of her friends especially her co-workers. She went on to say how her boss – the owner – has been teasing her telling her he hopes she hates it and comes right back.

I walked out of there and thought how incredibly valuable that conversation was from a customer service standpoint. You see, I don’t think that employers always realize how attached we (customers) get to their employees. Susan (my dry cleaner) always knew my name when I came in, she automatically got my order together for me, and when she would see me coming in the parking lot she would pretty much have me checked out by the time I came through the door. She knew my dogs names, what both my husband and I did for a living, and always asked about my weekend adventures. She was that friendly face, that person who turned going to the dry cleaner from a task to an experience.

If I would have walked through that door and all of a sudden she would have been gone with no explanation. I may think she was fired, or just quit, found a better job or became ill. In any scenario, the employer doesn’t look good. Because I did not know why she was not there, I would begin to make up my own story and most likely the employer would be the villain.  It would go something like this – he not pay her enough so she had to find another job, or the dry cleaning shop is not doing very well, so he laid her off. You get the picture.

Instead, those of us that are touched by her incredible customer service may be sad to lose her, but we feel good about the reason. We are happy for her, and while sad to lose her, we feel better knowing the owner of the dry cleaner is sad to lose her too, and would hire her back in a moment.

To an employer, this may seem like a small and insignificant thing, but to those of us that frequent your place of business it is big. Your business is your employees, and when turnover is high, or good people leave it is smart to let us know why. It is your people that get us connected to your place of business, and when they leave a piece of our emotions go with them. I would venture to say that there are plenty of times employees leave for very positive reasons, getting married, moving, found an incredible opportunity in their dream occupation or getting promoted. Share those with us, and let us feel excited for them, and happy that we support a company that supports its employees.

When I was a banker, we promoted a lot of people. We had quite an internal talent development pool. Promotion always meant moving branches within the area, or moving to new city or location. We always made a big deal out of it and encouraged the entire branch to share the exciting news with the customers at least a full month before the promotion was to take place. While customers always hate losing their favorite employees, they always feel better being included and valued enough to be a part of the excitement.

Remember, your customers invest more than their money in your business, they invest their time and their story. If you want to retain them then include them.

Meridith Elliott Powell

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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