When Micromanaging Matters

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With the new year upon us, we’re bringing back some popular how-to tips to help you sell better and enhance your clients’ experience. 

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Vice President–Content/Editorial Director
Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero

Uniqlo is a store that’s quickly expanding across the United States. If you haven’t seen it, it sells clothing in bright, attractive colors. Simple style, reasonable prices. On CBS Sunday Morning, a reporter interviewed a clothing critic who at first did not like Uniqlo. He found the mass of bright clothing unappealing. After a few more visits, he realized he liked Uniqlo after all because the people who worked there cared about the consumer’s shopping experience. They were well dressed and they also seemed to enjoy being in the store themselves. After a little digging, the CBS reporter found out that Uniqlo employees are trained fastidiously to be this way. They are also taught how to fold clothing neatly and attractively and efficiently.

The clincher? They are taught just how to smile at shoppers. “Micromanagement?” the CBS reporter asked a Uniqlo executive. “Yes, it is,” he said, without hesitating.

In travel, the talk is all about authenticity, but think about it. If you could train your employees to act in such a manner that it directly added to your bottom line, would you do it? The answer is, you probably should. Consumers care about consistency. When they’re spending a lot of money on a trip, they don’t necessarily want to see the person who is selling it to them showing off what’s really in their soul, they want to know that they’re in the hands of a professional who has counseled them in the best manner possible and who has ensured that every detail of their travel experience is being taken care of.

How do you train your employees? If you are in a brick-and-mortar setting, do you teach them to greet the walk-in client in the same professional manner as they greeted the guest who walked in just moments before? Or do you let them sit and giggle with their co-worker who is sharing what he did the weekend before?

If you’re an agency whose workforce consists of independent contractors across the world, what’s the code for the way they treat their clients? If they answer their work cellphone at 7 p.m. on a Saturday, is it done gruffly, with every ounce of their “hello” reflecting the fact that their evening is being interrupted? Or is it voiced cheerfully and clearly, and does the advisor immediately ask the caller how they can be of assistance?

These little things make all the difference. If your clients recoil at the thought of calling your advisors, dreading the response they’ll get, they’ll soon stop calling. If it’s annoying for them to walk in to your agency because they know they’ll have to wait for someone to stop what they’re doing and finally look up to reluctantly ask them what they want, they’ll stop coming to visit.

The first clause in Uniqlo’s “Value” statement is “Approaching issues from the customer perspective.” None of us do this enough even though it’s incredibly easy to do so. Such a philosophy requires that most of us flip the way we think of things. That is, don’t think about how business matters affect you or your company, consider instead how they impact your client. Do this from the moment the door of your office opens and someone attempts to walk in, whether the door is made of steel or whether it’s virtual. What are they seeing? What are they hearing? Are they being smiled at in a gracious, welcoming manner, or are little signals telling them they’re being a bother and visiting at a bad time? Micromanage if you must, but see how quickly your bottom line sees a positive impact from a happy, satisfied customer experience.