Two recent stories from Huffington Post are warning signs of a deeper problem in American businesses today.
The first is a story about the New Jersey man who received a counterfeit $100 bill from TD Bank. When he tried to return it, he was told by a bank supervisor that it was against “bank policy” since he already left the bank before reporting it.
The second, a grandfather in Scottsdale, AZ, was told to leave a Barnes & Noble store simply because he was browsing, unaccompanied, in the Children’s book section.
It seems a customer, who obviously watched too many pedophile episodes on Law and Order Special Victims, was concerned that a lone male was in the Children’s section. When she complained to the store manager the man was kicked out.
These are both prime examples of poorly trained, disengaged employee’s knee-jerk reactions that will, ultimately, cost both companies dearly in lost business and bad publicity.
In my opinion, as someone who, for two decades has worked with businesses to train, empower, and motivate staff, the fault lies with top management not investing in training their employees, not simply with the people on the front line.
Like the tip of the iceberg that sank the Titanic, these incidents are warning signs of a deeper problem.
In their efforts to cut spending to the bone, American companies have sacrificed one of their most valuable assets, their people. What would have been a small investment in employee training has now morphed into a major loss for both companies.
It is this type of short term thinking and reluctance to invest for the long haul that is reducing the effectiveness and, ultimately, the success of American businesses.
In both cases, an employee who had been trained to think through the situation and who felt engaged and empowered in their position would surely have reacted differently.
The problems for TD Bank as a direct result of this is still developing, however, so far the bank has not only lost the customer and his remaining $16,000 that was on deposit, but is the central focus of a negative story that has gone viral.
In Barnes & Noble’s case, you can bet than no males over the age of forty will venture into the Children’s book section alone for fear of being accused of improper motives.
At a time when the book retailer is struggling against online competition from the likes of Amazon, this is an error in judgement that should never have happened.
The best either company can hope for at this point is to offer a public apology, preferably from the CEO, and a pledge to better train their employees in the future.
Tags:barnes & noble,employee training and development,huffington post,law and order special victims,scottsdale az,TD Bank