I’m not lovin’ it

Here’s the good news.

McDonald’s currently has a great employee working for them at the John Wayne/Orange County airport. If anyone from McDonald’s is reading this, she was working at 11:45 am on Tuesday July 7. She is short in stature with dark hair. I apologize for not getting her name but quite frankly she was too busy for me to ask. She appeared to be wearing a lanyard, but I could not see a name.  She deserves a truckload of kudos and admiration for the way she treats your customers.

With a LONG line of customers in front of her, she was consistently helpful and friendly, displayed great product knowledge, and kept the line moving efficiently.

Here’s the bad news.

I said McDonald’s currently has a great employee because I don’t know how long she’ll stick around.  Here’s what makes me say that:

After I ordered and was waiting for my number to be called, a gentlemen walked up to the counter and asked the price of one of the advertised items. The employee calmly and politely explained that that price was incorrect on the menu boards and then quoted the correct price.

“So all prices are incorrect?”, he asked.

“No, just for that one. All restaurants have the same menu boards, it’s easier for them to program them that way.  It’s up to us to tell you the right price.”

Frustrated, the guy walked away without placing an order, and the usually friendly and efficient employee was visibly frustrated as well.

So did I just hear that right? McDonald’s is knowingly putting up the wrong prices because it’s easier to program the menu boards all the same?  Easier for who? Certainly not the front line employees who have to tell your customers about this and then deal with the fall out.

I wonder how many times per day this happens?

Over time, these inconveniences can wear down even the most dedicated employees.

I can hear it now… “well, she shouldn’t have said that.  That’s not good customer service. She should be reprimanded for that!”

Nope, not even close. It’s not her fault you chose to cut corners at her expense. It’s not her fault you chose convenience over doing what’s right.  If she divulged a secret recipe, then yes, you could be upset. But, explaining the broken policy to a customer who is just trying to figure out how much he’s going to pay…  Nope. You don’t get to be mad about that. That’s your fault.

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know my stance on broken polices (like airlines checking your bags for free at the gate to save overhead space!).  I hate them.  Hate is a strong word, but I really do HATE when a policy is detrimental to the front line employee or the customer experience and yet it continues to be practiced.  Why does it continue?  Because it makes money? Because someone is too lazy to change it?  Not good enough.

Please do this RIGHT NOW! Go to your front line employees and ask them what policies are broken.  Ask them what they have to do on a daily basis that gets in their way of providing outstanding customer service.  Go ahead, ask.

Oh, before you do that, check your ego at the door. You may have suggested or implemented the broken policy.

If you are able to address their concerns and fix the broken policies, guess what will happen?  For starters, you’ll have a more efficient operation, better customer service, and an employee who believes in what they are doing and feels like management cares about them. Isn’t that what we all want?

I don’t know that anyone has done a study on this specifically, but I would imagine that turnover rates are at least somewhat proportional to the stupid and illogical things (broken policies) that employees have to endure on a daily basis.

Wouldn’t you find it difficult to keep coming to a job where current policies and/practices were actually making your job more difficult? Worse yet, if management knew about it and chose not to fix it?

There is enough competition for talented employees out there… don’t hamstring yourself by allowing broken policies to send your employees running for the door.

Thanks for reading.


About the author: In June of 2011, Matt hung out his shingle as Performance Optimist Consulting.  Now starting his 5th year with POC, Matt continues to help organizations grow through better leadership, more engaged employees and fewer broken policies. His book, The Myth of Employee Burnout, has received critical acclaim from leaders and employees alike. For more information, visit www.performanceoptimist.com.