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Cannibalism Hurts Customers

Cannibalism Hurts Customers

Old-time manufacturing guys, like me, understand why cannibalism is not a good idea.

Cannibalism Hurts Customers.

No, not the “eat human flesh” type of cannibalism, I am referring to the practice of removing components from a returned product in the interest of building another.

Cannibalizing finished goods is a waste, because it introduces defects due to product tampering. And who suffers the most when manufacturing folks resort to cannibalism? The answer is simple – the customers.

Cannibalism is not limited to high tech manufacturing. It happens in the hospitality industry too as I learned during a business trip to Seattle a few years ago. I won’t mention the hotel chain’s name. Let’s just say a celebrity known for possessing no talent and whose first name is the same as the French capital, bears the hotel’s moniker for her last name.

Not First ClassMy hotel visit began poorly because the hotel’s computers were down. The registration clerk was unable to do his job and more importantly, serve me – his hotel guest. The confusion among hotel employees was profound and made worse by the editorializing to numerous hotel guests.

I stood by idly, watching the pandemonium and wondering when I might get to sleep that night. The clerk’s editorializing about the reasons for the hotel’s system being down did little to comfort me. After a busy travel day and a cross-country flight filled with all the logistical airport and shuttle hassles, the only words I wanted to hear were “Welcome Mr. Coscia. Here is the key to your room.”

Finally, a hotel manager was able to register me manually and hand me a room key. Upon my entry into a small hotel room, I was disappointed to learn that there was no desk, a minimum expectation of mine. After calling the front desk about my concern, the hotel clerk moved me to another room. By this time, exhausted I just collapsed into the bed and fell asleep.

The next morning, I awoke early (still on east coast time) and tried to make coffee, only to learn that the hotel room’s coffee machine brew basket was missing. I called the front desk and the clerk said she would have a bell captain take a brew basket from a coffee machine in another room. My immediate thought was that cannibalizing another room would only result in another complaint call to the front desk. I felt bad for the guest who would check into that room.

After making my coffee, I prepared for my shower only to learn that there was no shampoo. Did someone cannibalize my room by removing the shampoo? Frustrating!

After the shower, I prepared to iron my shirt to learn that the iron had a brown, gooey substance on the surface which stained my shirt and prevented the iron from gliding on the fabric. After cleaning the shirt stain, I was feeling bad about having to call the front desk again. I am a very low maintenance traveler and I don’t require much attention. So I had to muster a little courage to act outside my own comfort zone to complain again. I called the front desk again and the clerk said she would have the bell captain take an iron from another room. Another cannibalizing event! The replacement iron worked just fine, but this first 12 hours of hospitality was a big disappointment. This hotel’s mediocrity seemed pervasive.

Cannibalizing is a short term fix and almost always introduces new problems and dissatisfies customers. When ever I witness pervasive mediocrity I focus on weak management and a lack of standard operating procedures as the likely causes.

Today’s managers must practice tough love in the interest of doing what is best for customers which, in turn, is almost always best for the entire organization. Employees will almost always gravitate towards behavior that is easiest for them rather than doing what is best for their employer. Errant and mediocre performance must be addressed and this can result in reprimand.

When handled correctly, a reprimand accomplishes two goals. The first is a mutual understanding of what is acceptable. Second, the employee should feel a visceral, gut-level discomfort which can be the fuel that drives them to not want to experience that again.

Today’s politically correct social environment has created a misunderstanding about why reprimand is vital and one of the key service management basics. This hotel’s management needs to raise the bar and practice tough love.

If my travel brings me hear you, let’s meet.

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Steve Coscia

The road from professional musician to thirty-year customer service veteran to best-selling author and speaker is not a typical career path, but Steve Coscia may have started a new trend.

Coscia is one of the most widely published and quoted authorities in the customer service industry. He has published more than 200 articles, four books and a series of training DVDs. His college curriculum is taught at institutions of higher learning throughout the United States and Canada.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I agree with Steve’s comments and feel they should apply to employers who train and educators like myself. We must provide more tough love in our educational and training practices to help students understand the responsibility of their own educational maturity and personal future.

    All too often the goal is a grade, or completing a course or process, and not a “competency”. Ultimately students MUST be competent critical thinkers who can solve problems. No grade, diploma, degree, or certificate can “do” the work. Only the student or employee who accepts their employers or educators tough love as an opportunity and accepts the hard work of learning will be a success.

    We must reach out to learners, sometimes with “tough love” to bring them to the table and understand holistically their position within the organization or learning environment. As Steve’s notes: “Employees will almost always gravitate towards behavior that is easiest for them rather than doing what is best for their employer. Errant and mediocre performance must be addressed and this can result in reprimand.”

    It remains our responsibility as educators and employers to see our “students” understand the importance of hard work and life-long learning. All students or employees must continually ask themselves: Do I work by the hour, or do I work for the company”. There is quite a difference in the end.

  2. Makes you wonder why such a chain can not afford stock for replacement instead of fetching from another room thus receiving yet another complaint. “One gauge of success is not whether you solved a tough problem, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.” (or yesterday) – Now where did I read that?

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