A struggle that we all have is taking charge of our on-the-job training. Some people say, “That’s not my job”. Some say, “No one trained me”. “I don’t have time to learn this”, etc.
Guess what? You may not have been trained on something. Or you missed it. Or perhaps you did not make the connection. The question is, what are you going to do about it?
I learned about the value of this responsibility early in my first job. I was fortunate to get a job bagging groceries in Buehler’s in Medina, Ohio. I was extensively trained on how to put the groceries into the bag, load them in the cart, and thank the customer.
During my training, I was given an overview of the store product layout. Whether I did not pay attention or forgot, there were some products that I did not know where they were.
About once per shift, I would be asked to retrieve a product a customer forgot, or there was a damaged product that I would need to trade out. I would be asked to go get this product while the customer was being rang up. This opportunity needed hustle and ability to find the product quickly. I had the hustle part down……
In my first month, one night I was asked to make a product run. The customer had dozens of groceries, so I had some time. I was not sure what the product was, but I was confident I could find it. I took off with confidence, which quickly disappeared as I scrambled unsuccessfully to locate. As the seconds ticked away, I kept looking and looking and looking. I started to nervously sweat and felt like a failure. I was finally able to locate another staff person who helped bail me out. When I returned to the counter, the customer was waiting impatiently and let me know how she felt about my delay. I burned with shame at my failure.
After that incident, I resolved to not fail again. I would get to work 10 minutes early, or take my breaks and walk the aisles to learn where products where. I would do this at least once/week to learn about any changes. I did not think it was extraordinary, I just wanted to serve the customer to the best of my ability, and to solve their problems as they came up.
To take charge of your learning curve, I would suggest the following:
- look at available literature and website, learn about current services, current products, and some organization history
- know who runs each department and how to contact them or their staff
- ask questions
- personal observations-see customers and staff in action
- ask customers about their experience
- know about your competitors
I don’t know everything about customer service, but I do know that the people who succeed are the ones who strive to be seen as an expert by the customer.
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