For a fascinating look at life as a front-line employee in some well-known retail and service companies, read Punching In by Alex Frankel. Frankel spent two years working undercover as a frontline employee for UPS, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Gap, Starbucks, and Apple Store.
His adventure was prompted by his interest in discovering how these well known companies selected and trained employees and melded them into the corporate culture to deliver on the brand promise. Frankel’s experience provides insight into the hiring process (ranging from online psychological tests to The Container Store’s in-store group interviews) and the impact of formal as well as informal training and sharing of corporate values & norms.
Note to all who oversee their organizations’ orientation programs and/or are involved in trying to codify the employee and customer experience, including helping employees evolve into brand ambassadors – read this book and consider how your organization would have fared if Frankel wrote about you. (Better yet, ask your own employees … )
Punching In explores the human role in retail and service operations. Given my bias for positive employee-customer care, I loved one of the critical lessons Frankel learned from his frontline adventure:
” … I found that many of the best companies have not only realized that humans matter but have also moved ahead of competitors by finding, hiring, and training great people to work for them. People have become as much of a competitive weapon for many companies as the actual products they sell.”