A local non profit runs drop off centers for donations. I’ve used two different locations for many years.
Today I dropped off a garbage bag of clothes and a box of household items. In the past,
the attendant had specific bins he or she wanted different items placed. Today there were three identical cardboard containers, each relatively full.
The attendant was a man lethargically taping a box. He didn’t look up or acknowledge me. I placed the bag and the box on the ground in front of the the bins not knowing which to choose and politely asked for a receipt.
He was difficult to understand but it was clear he wasn’t happy and didn’t like me. He retrieved a receipt and dropped it on the ground. I was trying to make sense of this. Was it a new Covid protocol? Then he muttered, “Pick it up from the ground like the stuff you put on the ground for me to pick up.”
We all experience indifferent behavior and the occasional rude interaction, but this was demeaning. His last words before he walked about were, “Put your s*$t in the container.” I chose one and threw my donations in.
It is hard to get employees for any job at any amount of pay. I’ve always admired this donation center for hiring people who appeared to have limited employment opportunities. Based on my brief interaction, this guy was lucky to have a job anywhere.
He was costing his employer far more than they paid him. Egregious, rude behavior is so off-putting many would be hard pressed to return to donate anything. As much as I admire their service, I’m not looking forward to going back on the outside chance Mr. Charming was on duty.
I called the organization not to complain but to alert.
The person I talked to said he would pass my feedback on to the “District Manager.” I’ve yet to hear anything in response.
There are many kinds of bad service and many reasons it happens, but among the worst is rude and indifferent behavior that doesn’t just communicate the customer or client isn’t appreciated, but that they’re not welcome.
A surly and aggressive employee is the bane of any employer.
What can you do?
Here are a few things to try. Encourage feedback from customers and clients, both positive and negative. Acknowledge the feedback immediately (I’ve yet to hear from the District Manager the office manager told me would call). Then take appropriate action. If the feedback is positive, share it with the employee and reinforce his or her effort. Negative feedback needs to be dealt with immediately. Bad behavior that is tolerated will only continue or get worse.
Hiring for attitude is one way to avoid rude results, just as setting expectations and providing basic training–especially at the front line of customer contact–is critical.
As a business owner, I have always been more worried about the problems my firm created that I never learned about. If your client doesn’t tell you about it, that doesn’t mean they won’t tell others. And you can solve a problem you don’t know you have.
Rude behavior creates rude results: lost revenue and customer loyalty. Take action to make sure your team isn’t guilty.
Mark Sanborn is an award winning speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com.