In the past year I’ve been paying tremendous attention to how businesses are run, from a customer service perspective, at every store, shop, restaurant, and other service providers I go to. I’m a customer with a watchful eye and take mental note of good and bad experiences I encounter.
The other day I picked up a rental car in Montreal and it just struck me at how poor the service was. I’ve used National many times before and have received great service every time, from what I can recall, except this week at the downtown Montreal branch. First off, if I hadn’t noticed it, they would have charged me an extra day and not have included my 1 day free rental that I had selected while doing my booking online. I’m an executive Emerald member, and at most places I can just walk in, pick my car, and drive out (more or less). Not here. After finally getting the price right, the employee handed me the keys and didn’t say anything. Sure, I could deduct which door lead to the parking lot, but come on. The least could have been to provide cordial instructions on where to head for picking up my car. I thought that was bad, but I was corrected. Dropping off my car today was even worse. Cars were piling up in the drop off zone, starting to block the public parking entrance and literally no one was attending to it.
I’ve also noticed this type of behavior in other Montreal businesses, including McDonalds. Of all places, you would expect McDonalds to be standard across its chains, even for its staff training and how the restaurant is operated.
There’s an obvious pattern here; Poor management and poor employee training. You can’t expect your employees to do a great job if they don’t know what needs to be done and how it should be done in the first place. What’s even more shocking is that these are all customer facing positions. It seems like Montreal businesses don’t understand the concept of customer focused operations, or just don’t care. Well, I can tell you that I’m no longer a customer at Future Shop because of their poor in-store customer service. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type of customer that goes about complaining on everything, but I do expect a minimum of respect and decency. I’ll spare you the Future Shop story, but after the experience I wrote a letter to their head office – the local store manager called me the next day, but by then the damage was already done. Now I refuse to do business with them, simply by principle, as a lesson.
To make a long story short, businesses of all types need to take employee training quite seriously. It’s important to understand what the objective of the training is and set measurable outcomes. And by training, I don’t mean a workshop on how to use Microsoft Word ™; I mean actual material that will provide positive outcome to your business and employees – something tangible and useful. Here’s an interesting article on the importance of employee training: http://www.entrepreneur.com/humanresources/article77678.html
To all Montreal businesses (and our Mayor), we need to step it up. I don’t know for you all, but being renowned for our terrible customer service throughout the world isn’t something I’m proud of. It’s not the type of tourist attraction I’d be counting on for prosperity.