Don’t Let Employees Sabotage Your Protocols


I don’t often have the time to get a manicure, so when I treat myself to this little luxury I want to fully enjoy it. In preparation for my sister in law’s wedding a few weeks ago, I made time to get my nails done at the salon of the hotel we were staying in. While the experience left much to be desired, this post isn’t about the actual manicure. It’s about how the staff dealt with me when I returned the next day with a bone to pick.

Within hours of getting my nails done, the polish began to chip. I had not done anything out of the ordinary. It was clear that this was a result of the nail polish being past its expiry date. Less than 24 hours after I had “treated” myself to this manicure, 3 of my nails were completely bare as the polish had actually fully peeled off.

I debated whether to bother bringing it up with the salon, but the fact that I did not even enjoy the service results for one full day led me to head back to lodge a complaint. When I arrived, the receptionist was extremely cordial. She did not ask questions about why the polish peeled and immediately offered me another manicure. I explained I was leaving the city in half an hour and that I would prefer a refund. She paused and told me she would need to ask her manager. Within 30 seconds of speaking on the phone, the issue had been sorted and she began issuing me a refund.

As the receptionist was finishing up, the manicurist herself passed by the front desk and realized what was happening. She came over to inspect my nails and proceeded to blame me for the situation. Despite accusations like that being one of my customer service pet peeves, I remained calm and politely responded that it was not my fault and the polish was obviously old, she stormed off angrily while shouting, “take the refund out of my salary, Jenny! I’ll pay for it!”

In that moment I felt sorry for the receptionist and the salon management. They had done everything right to manage the situation and appease a client. I may have even returned to the salon because of their professional handling of the situation. But because of this one employee, the goodwill they had built by issuing my refund without question was tainted. The employee single handedly sabotaged what was a successful execution of positive customer service protocol.

Protocols and standards of procedure are crucial in service businesses. And just like ideas, they are completely worthless unless they are executed properly. I’ve worked with many clients who have fantastic protocols written in a manual that’s collecting dust in a drawer somewhere, while their staff don’t implement procedures as detailed in those manuals and aren’t held accountable for this lack of compliance.

In a service business, your service is your business. Taking the time to ensure your staff is regularly trained, regularly monitored, and regularly held accountable will make sure that those lovely and logical protocols you set out to deliver the best service possible aren’t rendered moot by your team’s lax or even improper conduct.



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