Is “Supervisor” a codeword for “get correct answers”?

Here’s a question for anyone working in customer service: why does it require speaking with a Supervisor in order to get clear cut answers?

This goes to the heart of Quality Management… instilling quality from the onset and ensuring that proper training is provided (Deming’s points 3 and 6). The fact that I have to be bounced around from department to department just shows that no one is communicating properly (Deming point 9), and when told one thing by a customer service representative it turns out apparently, according to the supervisor, what I was told is wrong (Deming point 5-ish?).

There seems to be too much emphasis on lower level employees covering their butts and reading from scripts or being limited in what they can say or do as opposed to really being able to support customers, particularly on issues that were no fault of the customer themselves.  I just had a discussion with a supervisor from a company that was telling me that what the customer service representative told me was not correct.  Unfortunately, this happens too often and in a wide range of industries.

So why, oh why, does someone need to use the codeword “Supervisor” in order to speak with someone who will actually care and make a difference?  Can you imagine if there were a company that would empower all employees at any level to do whatever necessary (within reason of course) to ensure that issues were corrected from the beginning?  Oh wait, I think there are!  At least in hospitality, I know Ritz Carlton believes in true quality service.  Then again, any company that focuses on real quality management based initiatives, be it based on Deming, Juran, TQM, Kaizen, Six Sigma, or any plethora of options out there would, or at least should, be taking steps to ensure that no customer has to use that special codeword and supervisors are there to focus on making sure their teams are getting it right from the start.

Posted in HGP Blog
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