The El Nino of Client Complaints

Dear Ken Keller,

My company is a service business and we operate seven days a week. During the busy months we can run two or three shifts, depending on the season.

I’ve noticed a trend that client complaints increase on the second and third shifts, but consistently peak on weekends. Monday through Friday we don’t get anywhere as many complaints but the day shift staff spends time addressing all the complaints, which reduces their productivity.

In an attempt to find the root cause of these issues, I moved around schedules and assigned some people who had been on the day shift to manage the weekends and nights. It didn’t help much.

I know you don’t know my business or my industry but I thought I would write in and ask you to share your insights. — Bob H.

Dear Bob:

My first question is: when was the last time you worked both weekend days for more than a single weekend?

My second question is: when was the last time you worked the second or third shift for more then a day?

My third question is: what hours do you think you should be working in a business that operates around the clock?

As the owner, your responsibilities do not end at when the first shift heads home to dinner with the family, a night of television, and a warm bed to get your recommended eight hours of sleep.

Your job is 24/7/365 and you can’t live it like you are an hourly employee who is paid for their time from 8am to 5pm with a guaranteed lunch break and two rest periods.

The reason your company is experiencing so many complaints when you are not there is exactly that: you are not there. The managers running the company when you aren’t there are ineffective.

You have been and are invisible to your second and third shift employees, and no one working the weekends expects to see you either. Because you are never there, and you don’t have any plans to show up, your employees can treat customers poorly because management is absent and apparently, there are no repercussions for bad service.

The message you are sending, loud and clear is: I don’t like working evenings, nights and weekends and all of you working are on your own.

At some point you will get angry and perhaps fed up enough with the situation that you will actually do something about it. That means you will have to change how you lead your people and how you manage your business.

Let me address the folks that you moved from the day shift to see what was going on during the night shift. Despite them likely telling you that they didn’t mind working those hours, they hated it.

They didn’t find anything out of the ordinary because if they had, you would have kept them on those shifts to fix the issues. This would have made them own the problems and the solutions when the rightful owner of the situation is looking at you in the mirror everyday.

If you really want to reduce and potentially eliminate client complaints you need to walk in the shoes of your employees during every shift, every day, to see what they are doing, what help they need and to learn how you can teach them how to improve the client experience.