Short-staffed, and over-worked staff

How often do we hear that a person is doing the work of three individuals in an eight-hour day? Or something like: I’ve worked 60 hours a week for the last eight weeks, because others are off sick. Perhaps, when you’re being served, you’ve heard: sorry we’re short staffed today; sorry I’m on my own at the moment; I’ll come back to you in a minute. 

When I hear those familiar words, it makes me wonder how the person saying them feels. Perhaps embarrassed, stressed, under pressure, even out of their depth; staff can often be pushed into covering a role they’re not familiar with. There may be an initial feeling of bravado as the adrenalin kicks in, of “I can do this!” and at first the customer service will excel, but as time ticks on the cracks will show. The first snap at a colleague might be a sign, all on view for customers to see. It’s easy to detect a member of staff that has reached their limit and it will always leave a bad impression.

The sensible thing to do, for that member of staff, might be to walk away for five minutes or ask a manager for help, but maybe they are in fear of losing their job. Have you seen the scenario where there is a very loud conversation going on between colleagues, right in front of customers? It might go something like this:

“I’ve had enough”

“They can stick their job”

“I’ve worked 15 days in a row”

Then they turn to you and say, irritated, “What do you want? It’s over there.” No ‘please’, no ‘thank you’, no smile and certainly no customer service. Do you feel like being their customer again?

Word-of-mouth is powerful. They haven’t only lost customers throughout the day due to a tired, overworked member of staff; those lost customers share their story with people all day. And just wait until they hit social media later that evening; that’s when the damage is really done.

Stressed staff have reduced ability to actively listen to and answer your needs. At Cultrix, we recognise the impact stressed staff can have on customers, so we always ensure there are enough hands on deck. Many of our team have dual roles. Our web developers can jump on the service desk, and vice versa. Shaun, our Managing Director can perform every role in the company, so there are times when you’ll catch him on the service desk too. Not often, but it will happen rather than keep customers waiting and the team feeling that they can’t cope.

Check out my last post in this series on customer service and keeping the art of speaking to customers alive.*}Look out for my last post in this series on customer service and keeping the art of speaking to customers alive, coming soon. And just in case you missed my last post: inflexible company policies and how they effect customer service.