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How to make wrong, right

When we say that ‘your people matter’, we should perhaps phrase this as ‘the right people matter’. In explaining what I mean by this, I would like to tell you about an experience I had recently with a major retailer in UAE, and how, what started out as a strong positive, turned into a disaster and then was made good by an exceptional employee. I will end this short article by giving you my 10 tips for helping you to ensure you get the right people and not just people in your organisation.

My experience started with the simple order of a product from a retailer. I need to take delivery the following day and this was assured by the store salesman. A promise made.

The following day - delivery day - I called the retailer, asked for the scheduled delivery time and was told someone will call me within an hour and let me know. That call was at 9 am, nobody called, so I called again, to be told that somebody would call within an hour, nobody called. This charade continued on the hour, every hour until 3 pm, when I was told, after calling again, that the product I had been promised would not be delivered until the following day - a day late. Halfway through the call, the call centre agent hung up on me - no apology

So, being the man I am, I went to the store and spoke to the salesman, he shrugged and told me there was nothing he could do - he had his sale and that was that - no apology.

I am sure you can imagine how angry I was at this point. As a last resort, I went to the friendly looking customer service manager... in an instant, I had received an apology and she was trying to fix the problem with stock, or an alternative. Eventually, after about 30minutes of negotiating, she arranged for me to take the display item in the store, had packed it and I was on my way home with the oven I had purchased a day before. Feeling a lot better about the situation.

Upon reflection, there were so many failures in customer service in the example I give that it is staggering that the retailer in question has managed to establish itself as one of the largest (if not the largest), in this market. Now, I do not blame the people for this example. The salesman is on a commission only salary and has a family to feed - of course, he is going to sell as much as he can and may over promise from time to time if he is short on his target towards the end of the month. I do not blame the call centre staff, they must receive calls every day from irate customers and, without the correct tools and procedures to resolve problems in real time, they can never satisfy an angry customer. I blame the management in this organisation. They have failed staggeringly in their duty of care to customers. They have created a dog-eat-dog atmosphere where salesmen have to sell, they have not trained or equipped their staff with the tools they need to deliver customer satisfaction, nor led by example.

Had it not been for the customer service manager who helped resolve my problem, I would be writing a very different article today. However, when I asked her if she had been trained by the company, she said ‘No’ she learnt all she knows from You-Tube... staggering.

I said I would end this article by giving my 10 tips for ensuring you get the right people. Look for these qualities. People who are:

  • Positive with an ability to find a solution to a problem and deliver it

  • Leaders, and who lead by example taking ownership of outcomes

  • Honest and have integrity in all circumstances

  • Prepared to, and do say sorry

  • Investing in themselves and their team through training and development

  • Believers in celebrating diversity

  • Believers in, and live your organisation's values

  • Energy givers, not an energy takers

  • Believers that it is better to move forward together, not alone

  • Collaborators

About the Author

Nicholas Griffin is Global Strategy Director at I-AM (, one of the world's leading customer experience design agencies. Information on how to contact Nick is in the footer of this web site .

#engagement #retaildesign #people #brand #culture #brandculture #retail #service #design #uae #dubai