“Let me get my manager for you.”
It’s a statement that frustrates guests, often frustrates managers, and is a sign that the frontline staff does not have the ability, whether the tools or skillset, to solve a problem for a guest or recover from a service failure. And the problem is that it’s very common.
When trying to resolve the frustration that this statement brings, the question of employee empowerment comes up. However, employee empowerment very often leads to the question of, “Should we allow them to give away free stuff to guests? What if they give away too much? Let’s just have them always get a manager if they want to give something away.”
This usually comes with a positive outlook. The business does not want to turn over too much control to the frontline staff in fear that it will be abused, and that the staff will take advantage of their power, rather than take responsibility.
But wait. Why does employee empowerment always have to be about giving away free stuff? These things are not the same. Employee empowerment has to do with fixing a problem. Sometimes that means tangible compensation, but by following the LAST model, this is often not the case.
Thing about the amount of time that can be saved, the manager’s resources that can be put to better, and the amount of guest satisfaction that can be salvaged, if service recovery wasn’t looked as giving things away for free, but taking the initiative to rectify a poor experience, before it turns into a negative review that can cost you thousands of dollars in lost business. If you give away a $4 snow cone that cost $0.25 to make, and it ensures that the guest will come back again soon and spend $100, would you still think of empowerment as giving things away?
Service recovery is not something that you give away, because it isn’t a gift. Service recovery is the compensation for a service failure that caused a guest to have an experience that fell below the expectation that you set for them. While occasionally it may have monetary value, you also have an excellent advantage to tap into the fact that you provide an intangible experience, which means that something you might normally charge for has no actual cost to your business, or at the very least - a minimal cost that is insignificant compared to the problem that it fixes.
When you recognize that service recovery can make you money, rather than cost you, it no longer becomes about giving things away for free, it’s about trusting your staff to do the right thing, and do whatever it takes to make it right. Instead of asking, “what should we let our staff give away for free?” ask, “how can we empower our staff so that they can take care of any problem they come across?” This change in mindset will benefit your staff, your guests, and your business as a whole.