Motivating people across cultures: A 2-pronged approach

Main Discussion Post

 

I do not believe that the approach for motivating an employee is universal.  As Adler (2008) mentions there are different cultural values that may dictate motivation.  Most “universal” motivation campaigns have been developed in the United States (2008).  Earley and Erez (1997) mention that each individual has a self-concept that is regulated by enhancement, efficacy, and consistency, which regulate the influence of culture on behavior.  These motives reflect how a person views him or herself in society (1997).  Because we have different personality types and cultural values, whether individualistic or collectivist cultures, there can be no universal truth for motivation.  We can have broad, over-arching principles like the two-factor motivation theory proposed by Herzberg (Adler, 2008).  This principle states that extrinsic and internal factors both equally can be used to motivate employees.  An external factor, like money, might not hold the same motivational value to some as it does to others, whereas performing at high levels and having pride about the company might not be equal as well.  Based on the fact that we are all different and have different cultural backgrounds and values, I do not think it will ever be possible to have a single, narrow approach for motivation.  There are too many factors and variables to consider.

 

References

 

Adler, N. and Gunderson, A. (2008). International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior (5th Ed.). Cincinnati, OH, US: Southwestern.

 

Early, P., and Erez, M. (eds) (1997). New Perspectives on International Industrial /Organizational Psychology. San Francisco, CA, US: Pfeiffer.

Is losing a customer really worth just $11?

My wife is an avid online shopper. It’s convenient, you can comparison shop, you can do it at 2 in the morning when you can’t sleep,  you can buy stuff you wouldn’t be able to find in a store, etc. etc. She has loaded up an Ikea file drawer with a plethora of nail polish this way. We’re talking lots of polish. 100+. She has even developed a good reputation with several smaller-batch polish and makeup makers because of her loyalty and recognition of good product. Several will send her extras and samples with her orders because they recognize a good customer. However, recently one of these small companies decided that fixing their own mistake and trying to cheat her out of $11 was worth more than getting some more repeat business out of her.

 

She had ordered about $60 or so worth of various products from an online store. She got her confirmation email and we went off to dinner. About 2 hours later she got another confirmation email for the same order. She figured it was a mistake in the system, the email got sent twice. No big deal. About a week later 2 orders of the exact same thing showed up. She contacted the company and they said they wouldn’t take it back because it would cost them money to resell, restock, and they’ve already shelled out $11 to ship these items to her. She explained this was not her fault, it was theirs and she didn’t really care about them being out the money for their own mistake. She wanted her duplicate order money refunded and for them to cover shipping. This doesn’t sound like it should be rocket science, but apparently the decision making process at this online store is lacking.

 

They kept trying to guilt her into this over the course of several emails. Finally, my wife got annoyed stating that she has bought from these people many times before and couldn’t believe the treatment she was receiving. Let me reiterate that UPS basically has a parking spot in front of our apartment from all of the beauty supplies she buys every week being delivered. This was the last straw with them not admitting their mistake or demanding she split the cost of this mistake with them, or any other ridiculous thing. She said she would take her business elsewhere. Their response: “You’re the one who’s willing to cut ties over $11.”

 

Well, no. They’re the ones willing to cut ties over $11. They’re the company looking to sell items and my wife is the one with a gazillion options on places to shop. So, even if this was an honest mistake on their part they handled it poorly. Even if this situation were completely different and it was my wife’s fault, they need to understand that this poor customer service experience has cost them a ready and willing customer who loves to get any new shade of nail polish she can. For $11 they decided they stood on stupid principle. They need to realize that the first 2 rules of customer service are: 1)the customer is always right, and 2)reread rule 1. Rudeness and guilt are poor ways to run a customer service department. It leaves a lasting impression that will leave people not spending money with you and blogging about it on the internet.

How to improve your customer service without spending a dime!

I’m sure if you were to ask 10 people what their biggest pet-peeve about shopping is, 11 would tell you it’s a bad customer service experience. Heck, look at most Yelp reviews with a lackluster rating and what do you see? Bad customer service. Whether it’s rude employees, not getting the value for your buck, or incompetence, there are a bunch of simple ways to improve the experience, stop the bleeding and keep those customers coming back to spend some more. In these times, with so many options for places to spend, and not a lot of people who can afford to do so, it doesn’t take much to implode. I worked in the restaurant industry for over 10 years. I prided myself on making sure people could come out and have a good time while I took care of them. If I was having a bad night, their money is still being spent. But these simple tips became very handy when things went awry. And these tips helped those times where things didn’t go right turn into loyal customers.

 

1) LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN! Oh, and LISTEN! Encourage your employees to listen to the grievance and help solve the problem. One of the things I hear people complain about most is dealing with a “know-nothing” employee. This, in my view, comes from employees not being empowered to do anything. If you give the authority to your employees to solve the problem as opposed to running to get a manager the customer will feel as if they are dealing with a competent, ie: smart and helpful, person. This doesn’t mean there are things that can’t go over their head or pay-grade. But encourage the employee to listen on how to solve the problem effectively. When a customer has a problem, they don’t want to explain it to someone who is just looking to run and hide so you can deal with it. It also makes the customer have to explain their issue more than once. I don’t know about you, but when I have to call my cell phone company and explain my issue repeatedly because I keep getting transferred from one person to another I get very annoyed. Typically solutions are simple, whether you just need to comp a meal, or they just need someone to listen to a grievance (sometimes that’s all they want) it doesn’t always need to escalate to the next level. But listen carefully so you can come to a fair resolution together. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t understand what the complaint is. LISTEN!

 

2) Seek out a problem. Yes you heard me (read me?) correctly. If you notice someone who is not happy then ask what you can do to resolve the issue. If a customer is picking through the clothes racks and just not finding anything, ask if there was something online they saw that maybe you can order from another store. If a customer leaves half their food and doesn’t want to box it up, ask if you can get them something else instead (or even just have the chef whip up something and surprise them). You’d be surprised how something like this will win over a customer for life who may not have come back because of a “meh” experience.

 

3). Follow up with them. If you have the opportunity, either get a contact number or email address to make sure there isn’t anything more you can do to get that customer back in the building. If you win them over, just think how many friends they will tell because of their experiences. Conversely, if you don’t win them over, just think how many friends they’ll tell about that. Also think about how many bad experiences from friends you hear about rather than the good ones.

 

4) Get as much feedback as you can from your customers. See where there are weaknesses. See where you missed those opportunities. And this also provides the opportunity to follow up with them to see if you have resolved whatever issues they had. It also gives them the opportunity to tell you what went right! As a manager, I never tired of those customer service experiences. When I got to hear praise about my employees and how wonderful they are.

 

These 4 little things are just the tip of the iceberg in ways to get your customers coming back. But you need to start from here. If things still need some sprucing up, my phone number and email are easy to find…