What… No Restroom?

By Sharon Worsley

Hmmm, did I get your attention with that headline? Well, let me explain further.

This weekend I went to a shopping mall in Toronto that I had not been to in some time. Previously as you entered the store directly from the subway it was two floors of a very large Sears Canada store. The only way to get into the mall from the subway was to walk through this store.

When I went to enter the store on this particular day I noticed that the main floor had been taken over by a name brand clothing store. They only had taken over the first floor with no access to an empty 2nd floor.

As I entered through the doors there was a store greeter at the entrance, so I asked if there was a restroom I could use. He directed me to the other side of the store. I thought that was where he might lead me as I had used the facilities previously when Sears rented this space, but I figured it was best to check now that the space had been taken over by another store that may have made other arrangements for its customers.

So I walked over to the section of the store where he indicated and where I knew the restrooms to be. Once I got there, however, there was a rope blocking access and a sign that read ‘for employees only’.

At that moment two employees were walking past so I asked them where the restroom facilities were for customers, as one of their colleagues had directed me to this particular spot. I was told that they did not have a restroom at this time for customers.

This surprised me as if you would think that a store as large as this would have facilities available.

I asked if in this case, because their colleague had directed me over to this area if I might be able to use the restroom as an exception. The gentleman said that they were not very clean for a customer but I said that wouldn’t be a problem and that I understood the situation. However, the woman said no because it was likely against ‘LP Policy’.

In the end, they stood and blocked the space, as if I was just going to plow through regardless, which I had no intention of doing.

I then went to ask for a supervisor, because I am one of those people that like to offer feedback directly to management. Unfortunately, the manager was not available, so I ended up speaking to two other associates.

They didn’t see that anything was wrong with the responses I had received to date, to the point of negating the first greeter telling me where the washrooms for customers were when there were none available.

I mentioned that their organization might want to make sure that everyone in the store has the same information such as there are no restrooms available, and perhaps letting each associate know where to direct a customer seeking these facilities within the mall.

I was told that they had just recently opened and everyone is very busy.

Hmmm…(another one), I suggested right back that it doesn’t give a great customer experience to someone when they are being told different things by different staff and also being told that they can’t use the restrooms due to ‘LP Policy’. What the heck is an ‘LP Policy’ is something I am sure customers might ask themselves if they are told this.

So how does this story relate to you and your business? Well, it certainly casts a view over the customer experience with an organization. It also shows how a company has not prepared its staff correctly and efficiently to best be of service to a customer.

In this case, as a brand new store in a mall where hundreds of people a day are walking through their doors from the subway to access the rest of the mall, they are potentially missing opportunities to meet even minimal customer service.

I understand that as a new store opening with only one area on the floor they have chosen to block off the restroom for their staff only. However, what they should be doing is making sure all staff is aware of this, and provides them with information on options for customers on where to find a restroom in the mall.

Now as you are reading this you might be thinking, this is not a big deal, let the customer find their own restroom. But if that is what you are thinking right now then you are missing the points I am making.

1. Greeter is providing incorrect information causing a customer to go to that location only to find out there are no facilities – waste of time.
2. Staff using terms like ‘LP Policy’ expecting the customer to know what they are referring to.
3. Not giving the customer an alternative or help in finding what they are looking for – in my case the nearest restroom.

Points to Ponder:

• Where in your business do you ensure that all staff has access to the same information to be able to provide an exceptional customer experience?
• What, if anything, can you do to up-level the interaction of you and/or your staff with your customers and ensure that this is consistent throughout the organization?
• How often do you reach out to your customers to find out their experience with your organization and then take action on improving service wherever possible?

Sharon Worsley, The Business Development Ninja™ is the creator of the R7 System™ to Flood Your Business With Clients Today, Tomorrow and Beyond, helping businesses to ‘Wake Up, Shake Up, and Show Up’. She also consults and coaches peak performers to excel as leaders. To learn more, contact Sharon at [email protected]

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