Top Ten Customer Turnoffs: “That’s Not My Job”

“That’s not my job.” Have you ever made a request of someone only to hear those words? Or, have you been told, “we can’t do that.” Are you ever asked to do something that is not part of your job function? Of course, we all are. Have you had a customer ask for a product or service that you don’t provide? Certainly. The key is how you respond to those questions.

The Disney Way

During my time working for Disney in Orlando, my role placed me in an office behind the MGM Studios theme park.  On occasion, I would take my lunch break and head in the back entrance of the park. If you have ever been to a Disney park, you know that all cast members (what they call their employees) wear a name tag with their name and hometown printed on it. It is easy to recognize a cast member. At the time, I was a manager in the Information Technology department, leading a team that supported a large call center. In my role, I had no direct responsibility for any park operations.

If a guest approached me as I was walking through the park and asked, “where is the Indiana Jones attraction?” Do you think it would have been acceptable for me to say, “sorry, I am in IT. I don’t work in the park.” Of course not.  During my initial two days of training at Disney, I attended a class that all cast members are required to take called “Traditions.” One of the key concepts they impressed on everyone was it is never acceptable to say, “it’s not my job.”

You Own Their Request

At that point, I had two options as to how I responded to the request. I could either stop what I was doing and personally take them to the attraction, or I could introduce them to a fellow cast member who would then assist them. Remember, it is not your customer’s responsibility to understand your organizational chart in order to do business with you. If they ask you for help, then you own getting them to the right person.

Let’s Look into That

Nothing is as bad as hearing “it’s not my job.” But close on its heels is an employee telling a customer, “we can’t do that” without taking the time to think about other options. Unfortunately, many of us are conditioned to say “no” when we need to respond with “let me look into that” or something similar. When we are working with sales teams, one of the things we coach them on is transferring a customer’s request from something you don’t exactly provide to something you can help them with. If you take a few minutes to think about their request and propose other options, you often will find that the customer is not set on their original request, but is willing to consider your suggestion.

The Pizza Debacle

Several years ago, my wife, son and I went to a local pizza restaurant where we live in Frisco, Texas. We were early for dinner and were the only people in the place. At that time, my son was a cheese pizza only guy and my wife and I preferred a good pepperoni pizza.  I asked the waitress taking our order if we could have a large pizza with half pepperoni and the other half plain cheese. Her response caught me off guard. “I’m sorry sir, but our system does not allow me to do that,” she said. Thinking it was a pricing issue, I responded with, “you can charge me for a full pepperoni pizza, but just make one half cheese only.”

Pizza Redemption

She again responded with the same answer and we left the establishment, never to return again. Several weeks later we were in a different pizza place, and I made the same request. The response was totally different. The waitress replied, “sure, we can do that.” The difference was their attitude and their willingness to think before responding with a no.

Flexibility is the Key

We all have our policies and procedures to follow and I’m not suggesting you ignore your company’s policies. But, what I am saying is that we all need to have a bit more flexibility when handling a customer’s request. Work on saying “yes,” or at least, “let me check into that” instead of taking the easy road and saying, “no, we can’t do that.” Your customer’s will appreciate your willingness to consider their request, even if you are not able to ultimately meet their need. We are all given brains – use them to serve your customer with common sense.

Next week we will deal with Customer Turnoff #4: “Poor Product or Service Quality.” Please feel free to reach out should you have any customer service questions.