I needed some stamps and stopped into the post office today. Miracle of miracles, there was no line. At the counter she tells me “these new stamps have the ’39 cents’ on them now.” OK, I admit, I’m not strong enough to let that one pass: “well that ought to be good for a few weeks,” I said. Those were the last words I got out in the next five minutes.
She gave me a history of stamp price increases in the last five years, a diatribe on GWBush’s stance on postal pensions, and a prediction on the future of the postal service’s finances. The line behind me began to form; I simply wanted to buy two rolls of stamps. It became increasingly uncomfortable.
Of course, the post office is where the term “going postal” originated, and like most stereotypes, it’s based in some elements of truth. No, I didn’t expect her to whip out an uzi and start sawing us down, but it got me thinking about the messages all team members send to the outside world.
Most companies don’t think enough about the subtle (or even blatant, as above) messages their front-line people are giving to their customers. Do the people touching their customers understand the vision for the company? Do they agree with it? Do they actively support it and work toward it?
Five uncomfortable minutes in the post office had me wondering what life was like well behind the counter, and in the lunch room. From this quick encounter, I know I wouldn’t want to work there, and if given the choice, I wouldn’t shop there. Are your people having the same effect?