A moment of indiscretion


Businesses with customer service staff might have recently employed Generation Z (yes, we’ve moved on from Gen Y) during the July holidays from school and university. Young people with limited skills, experience and/or knowledge about the businesses might have been given the responsibility to influence whether customers buy, recommend the offering or simply walk away.

Yet dealing with the public is a difficult job that requires a high degree of emotional intelligence, creative problem-solving and exceptional communication skills.

In a world where internet shopping erodes significant chunks from companies’ bottom lines, and where news travels at the speed of Twitter, it’s time to stop and ask, “What am I doing to equip my frontline staff with what they need, to deliver stand-out service?”


The cost to train and coach young people to deliver a stand-out service experience is insignificant compared to the costs to develop, market and sell new products.

We know word-of-mouth is more powerful now than it ever was, given the variety of platforms social media provides. Landlords of holiday accommodation know that regardless of how they advertise their property, consumers will be influenced by reviews of people they don’t know and may not even like! Sales staff often underestimate the sphere of their influence.


Here’s an example to illustrate. I waited in line to be served by a young sales assistant in the store of my telecommunications provider. He had just helped another customer who appeared similar to me demographically. As that customer turned to leave, I noticed the sales assistant rolling his eyes at the customer as they left the store. Consider the potential harm to the business in that moment of indiscretion. That sales assistant’s lack of professionalism undid the hours his colleagues spent converting me to their business in the first place, never mind the financial cost of advertising. Little did he know that I'd use his indiscretion as an example of what not to do when training thousands of others on customer service.

Gen Y and Gen Z are the customer-service front of the future. Teach our emerging workforce emotional intelligence so they can engage with your customers. Remind them how valuable they are to the success of your business. Set the bar high and support them to reach it.


Consumers are spoiled for choice, which means that delivering a memorable customer experience is key to staying in business.


If you’re thinking again about the strength of your organisation’s customer service, and would like to lift the bar, check out our Customer Experience programme for ideas that will work for your team.