The following exchange occurred at a sushi restaurant recently…
Me: I see on the menu you have tuna sashimi [note: for non-sushi people, sashimi is a generous bite-size piece of fish without the rice blob beneath], and Salmon sashimi, but not a combo. Could I please get 2 pieces of tuna and 2 pieces of salmon sashimi as one order?
Server: No, I’m sorry I can’t do that.
Me: [surprised] Why not?
Server: Well, a combo is not on the menu and the boss is not here to say it’s okay to offer it.
How empowered are your people? Do they have the authority and information required to make decisions of the type they need to make? Having to “go to the boss” to get authorization for seemingly straightforward requests tarnishes your customer’s experience.
At best, going to the boss is a minor irritant like the sushi example above. At worst, it creates distrust in the mind of your customer. If you have bought a car it is likely you been left sitting in the Sales Associate’s office as they went to speak to the manager to get approval on one of your requests. You were probably thinking “Why do they need to go to the boss on this one? Is this some sort of ploy or negotiating tactic?”
Dealing with an empowered employee is a liberating experience. They either A) have been given reasonable authority to make day-to-day decisions or B) know the parameters within which their decision-making must be made. Either way, you end up with issues resolved more quickly, smoothly and with pleasant journey along the way.
Have a look at your policies and procedures. Are there decisions that require one up approval today that would be better put the hands of your staff? Are there decision-making parameters you can outline that will facilitate them providing a better customer experience? Perhaps allowing your folks to say yes to a 2 tuna and 2 salmon request will result in more satisfied buyers.