“i don’t have the authority to do that.”

I paid two visits to Stanton Optical this week to repair a broken pair of glasses. My experience was satisfactory. The staff was helpful and accommodating and the cost for repair was reasonable and my glasses are repaired. I have no complaints. You could not say that for other customers, though. I observed one unhappy customer making very vocal complaints to a Stanton associate. And that’s when I heard the unsuspecting Stanton employee say the one phrase that drives a stake through the heart of customer service:

“I don’t have the authority to do that.”

I thought: Why not? Why don’t you have the authority? Why have I just spent the past 20 minutes dealing with you if you can’t help me? Why did I waste my time on you?

If you are a manager of any business and your employees have the “I don’t have the authority” shield as their first response to a complaint, you have failed.

Decisions to NOT have to be micromanaged. The larger question here is why are your employees in no position to do anything but press buttons on a computer or cash register?

I understand management is the bottom line. But good managers empower employees to resolve issues and leave the customer satisfied. “I don’t have the authority” is a customer service killer.

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