Headphones Present New Challenges for Customer Service

Rick Weaver

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As the workforce continues to age they can be expected that employees will more frequently be listening to personal music while at work. A recent study by Spherion shows that 22% of Baby Boomers listen to MP3 players or iPods at work while 48% of Generation Y listen to the music devices.

As this trend continues there were several other trends that are likely to develop without proper preplanning:

1. Safety issues. Employers will need to be careful with these listening devices do not distract employees from other important background sounds such as fire alarms, ringing telephone, calls for help from other employees, or other workplace “hearing” needs. Those companies that already have an ADA compliant workplace for the hearing impaired will have an advantage on this trend.

2. Customer service issues. Baby Boomers are still moving markets. They are more likely to resent any business with employees using earpieces. An etiquette will properly develop much like email etiquette developed in the early days of the Internet. When it does, Generations X and Y will adopt it quickly.

MBC, the cultural empowerment organization based near Detroit, Michigan, has identified this as a key generational culture issue for 2007. The organization feels the best practice for resolving this potential safety and customer service issue is a two-pronged approach. First, employees must understand both issues from a generational standpoint. A Generation Xer needs to understand that when servicing another Generation Xer the headphone is likely to not even be an issue. However if the customer is from the Builder Generation, the customer may leave the establishment never to return again.

A second key to resolving the safety and customer service issues is in management training. Managers need to understand how different generations will react differently to requests by management to do away with the headphones entirely or to use them in a customer sensitive and safe environment. It is important to develop a policy that understands the motivations and thought processes of each generation if a headphone policy is to be successfully deployed to all employees.

Rick Weaver is an accomplished business executive with a wealth of experience in retail, market analysis, supply chain enhancement, project management, team building, and process improvement.

Rick's career began in retailing as a stockclerk, eventually becoming the Director of Vendor Development at Kmart Corporation during its heyday. In this position he worked with hundreds of Kmart’s suppliers to improve mutual processes, procedures, and profits. As a consultant, Rick has worked with companies in various industries to develop leadership and business strategies. As an entrepreneur, Rick has founded or co-founded six successful organizations, including non-profit and for profit.

Now in his role as president of MaxImpact, Rick uses his vast experience helping individuals connect to their dreams and teams connect to a common vision. Rick’s presentation style of blending humor, real life examples, and easy to implement ideas has made him a popular speaker at seminars, workshops, and conferences in in 43 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

(c) Max Impact Corporation


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