We're open to the public from early morning until perhaps way into late night. Some of us may be open 24 hours. The manager is in the facility during the bulk of business, generally 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most of the full-time, tenured employees are working during this time. The manager has strong business skills and the business runs fairly smoothly. However, can the same be said after the manager leaves for the day? Does the customer have similar experience in the evening or late night hours as they would have during the day?
The entire working environment may change. The workforce may reflect younger, less tenured, part-time employees. The shift supervisor may be less experienced and management skills less effective. As a result, the customer experience may be totally different. So, how can you tell if the customer experience is less than your company mission?
Customer feedback – Provide avenues for your customers to provide feedback. Request for feedback on sales receipts, feedback cards on customer tables, or perhaps a picture of the manager with contact information posted in a prominent area will provide pertinent information on the customer's experience. Monitor social media sites for customer comments on your business.
Analysis of POS reports – Evening and late night sales may be inconsistent. Are key performance indicators such as the number and dollar amount of cash and inventory shortages, voids, deletions, price reductions, no sales, and refunds in line with acceptable standards? Indicators beyond acceptable standards may be symptomatic of quality issues, customer service problems, or employee theft. Add instant notifications of exceptions to your smartphone. Labor hours vs. sales projections, key performance indicators and unauthorized opening of the back door notifications can provide information to operate the business more effectively and efficiently when you or the manager are not on site.
Turnover ratios – High turnover rates may indicate poor hiring procedures, disparate job expectations, or poor working conditions. None of these are generally congruent with smooth operations and excellent customer service. Operating the business with a shortage of employees or new hires may tax operations and severely affect the customer experience.
Training programs – All employees must understand the mission and goals of the organization. Training programs emphasizing policy, procedures, and expectations must be clear, especially to the employees working evening and late night hours that may have infrequent contact with you or the Manager.
Mystery shoppers - Enlisting a third party shopping service to evaluate your business during various day parts will offer an impartial customer viewpoint. Ensure quality, service, and cleanliness standards are high throughout the day.
Pop in – Unexpected visits by the manager and/or owner may set the tone on performance expectations. If the evening and late night employees never see them, performance levels may be lax.
Camera review – If the location is equipped with security cameras, review not only activity from a customer complaint or accident claim, but spot times as well. Assess the efficiency of operations, customer and employee activity and compliance to policy, procedures, and expectations. Remote access to security cameras will enable you to monitor activity from your home computer, smart phone, tablet, or other remote site.
Old school surveillance – Nothing quite gives you the sense of what's going on during evening and late night hours like sitting across the street with a pair of binoculars and perhaps a drive-thru headset. You can watch and listen live to how customers are treated, the efficiency of operations, and compliance to policy, procedures, and expectations. Of course don't use a vehicle that's known to the employees.
So you discover that there is a discrepancy in the customer experience between the day shift and the evening/late night shifts. It's time to reevaluate your business. If effective supervisory skills are needed, perhaps reassigning more effective, tenured managers to those shifts will alleviate problems. Less experienced supervisors may need additional or remedial training. More effective hiring and training procedures may be needed. Most importantly, effective, consistent progressive discipline practices must be in place with the goal to change behavior and performance to desired results.
If segments of your business are not delighting customers, take a serious look as to possible reasons why. Take the actions necessary to fix those issues. Customers don't care what your problems are. They want consistent quality, service, and value, no matter what time of day it is. It is up to you to provide it.
D.B. Libby Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonalds Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands.