I am part of a book club, and this week’s discussion was about Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. It is a good read about the innovative ways companies are using social media to engage customers and employees to enhance their businesses. One topic in our discussion was the comfort level that Gen Yers have with all of the social media and the impact this is going to have on the business world.
As has always been the case, the “new generation” will bring many fresh ideas to the work place – which is all good. However, as I think about customer measurement and putting the customer first I think there are a few things they can also learn from us “oldies.” Consider these recent adventures I have had:
• Tuesday night, softball game of 14-year old girls. A high fly goes to center field. The fielder runs wildly around with mitt in air, the ball hits the ground, and the fielder just stands there staring at it while the hitter zips around the bases. I am shrieking, “throw the ball in.” But guess what many other parents are saying? “Oh, that is OK.” I can’t tell you how many times that is said at kid’s sporting events these days. Gosh, we would hate to say anything critical to our precious children. In 10 years, when they mess up a work assignment, is the customer going to say, “Oh, that is OK.” Certainly not.
• Thursday evening, Abercrombie and Fitch, low light, loud music, overpowering perfume (yeah, I’m with the same 14-year-old). We are greeted dozens of times by the many flawless, well-clothed, chirpy young people that man the store. Until we are ready to try on clothes. We go to the locked dressing room with arms of over-priced clothes and there is no one to be found to let us in. We look around, we walk from room to room, and 5 minutes later stumble across a clerk. They say, kind of puzzled, “Oh you want to try those on???” Duh. After trying them on, we wait another 5 minutes at the empty checkout counter. These young people are the future of our world, and they don’t have a clue of how to serve customers.
• Sunday afternoon, local grocery store. The bag boy is carrying on a very important conversation with a friend. Every couple of minutes he remembers where he is, looks my way, and puts an item in the bag. By the end he has asked me 6 times “how are you doing” without listening to my answer, used plastic bags when I asked for paper, and put the hamburger buns at the bottom of the bag. Not sure about you, but my customers would not settle for this inattention or mediocrity.
There are some interesting times ahead as the different generations integrate the best of both worlds into the workforce of the future. But I think one thing will stay the same – when I am a customer and paying for a service, I am going to want attentive, accurate, and competent service.
Vice President, Client Services