2019 HBCU Careers Magazine

HBCU Careers Magazine

The Lost Art of Personal Responsibility

By: Alexandra Arrington, LPCA, NCC, DCC Career Counselor, Consultant and Coach

Something I talk with my students about is personal responsibility. The all too common sentiment of "that's not my job” can be seen across industries in terms of customer service/client satisfaction, and the consequences are far reaching. There are so many amazing employees and businesses, but bad apples can spoil the bunch, as they say. Here are some thoughts and anecdotes on the topic, as well as fodder for consideration for individuals seeking to maintain or improve their personal brand or stand out in their career, in any field. I had a couple of experiences, one as a customer/client and one with a client of mine that were very similar experiences, but with very different outcomes: SCENARIO ONE : I went to a store to make a quick purchase. I went in, found something that worked for my purposes, and took the item to the register to check out. The sales associate informed me that the itemwas improperly tagged, and that it was actually three times as much as the tagged price. Imagine my surprise finding out that I was not only NOT getting a deal, but my psychological preparation to pay one price was completely thrown off with the actual price not even being in the same ball park. Being that I am my own best advocate and a customer service aficionado, I began to inquire about whether they would honor the advertised price, since by their own admission it was mismarked. Now, most nationwide establishments with which I am familiar and used to having dealings would not have even put me in the situation to have to ask the question because their policies are clear and rehearsed in a scenario like this. The associate proceeded to inform the store manager of the situation and asked what should be done with respect to my question. The store manager contended they could not honor the price being that it was so much less than the actual cost and went on to say that they did not know who or how it got improperly marked. I ended up leaving the merchandise and the store and going back to my car. My StrengthsFinder “Learner” theme may have kicked in at that time because I decided to call the company's corporate office to find out what their actual published policy was in circumstances like this. Sure enough, the customer service agent on the line said it was their policy to honor advertised pricing, and in a case like mine they should have rung me up without question. With that, I semi-marched back to the store and asked if the associate would speak to the customer service agent whom I asked to stay on the phone, and she did. After the discussion, the associate called the store manager and said in an incredulous tone "She called corporate," referring to me. They rang me up begrudgingly. At that juncture, I fully expected to hear something, even if half-hearted, along the lines of "our fault ma'am, thank you for shopping at [XYZ retail establishment]. Have a nice day." To my chagrin, instead the associate said to me: "I hope you sleep well at night!"


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