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Thursday, 18 April 2013

RETAIL MINIMUM WAGE - £10 PER HOUR


It can be a mantra or a manacle, depending on your particular point of view, bestowed on every one of us by Cesar Ritz, the legendary Swiss hotelier.  He puffed out the words: “Le client n’a jamais tort”, which translates as “the customer is never wrong”, or as we all like to chant it out nowadays, “the customer is always right”.  Each phrase in its own way is highly debatable because the customer is not always right but certainly, however you cut it, the customer is always essential.  And if the customer is to be elevated to a position of regal importance in the commercial world, then customer service staff should be given parity in the corporate structure.  Excuse me, but I thought I heard a voice in the distance shout: ‘Are you out of your mind?”
Checkout assistants, information desk staff, call centre operatives, banking personnel, catering teams, hotel receptionists, bus drivers and so on are all on the front line in business, facing or communicating with masses of customers on a daily basis.  They are trained, hopefully, in personality, professionalism, etiquette and charm to maintain eye contact, generate warmth, offer huge dollops of sincerity, friendliness and helpfulness, all to make the complete service package fresh and unique to every individual customer.  In other words, they carry an enormous responsibility as business ambassadors and hold considerable power to win loyalty through satisfaction or customer desertion through apathy or carelessness.
It is challenging work that does not suit everybody.  Some service employees are naturally gregarious but others, through glum facial expressions and lazy body language, display their blatant wishes to be somewhere else, well away from customers and the passing general public.  Service needs dedication, loyalty and, yes, significant financial reward. While well-rewarded directors spend some time with customers and lecture on service and goodwill from the relative safety of boardrooms and conference podiums, hourly paid staff put up with the human race with all its foibles, emotions, tantrums, demands and expectations.  The experience can range from the sublime to the vile.  Serving the public is a tougher and tougher vocation that deserves the best customer servants that money can buy.
Minimum wage for customer-facing employees - start at £10 per hour.  
Retailers might be choking, but I'm not joking.  You get what you pay for.

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