A couple of years ago in Portland, Oregon an LGBT customer received his receipt from the local Apple store with the email address input as “fag.com.” As a business owner, professional, someone with employees – what is your reaction to this? If you are marketing to the LGBT community I would imagine you would be saddened to see or hear of someone doing this. The employee who rang this customer up specifically typed in ‘fag.com,’ – this was not an accident. I don’t have all of the details or know both sides to the story but I found the article on PQ Monthly, which is a Portland area website. I am bringing this specific case to you attention for a reason. Can you always keep track of your employees?
Employees in customer service positions are your front lines. They are the first impression for new customers walking in your doors. This incident occurred at an Apple store which happens to be a more progressive company in terms of LGBT than others, but yet, they were not able to control the actions of an individual employee at a store in Portland. Whether typing ‘fag.com’ on the receipt was supposed to be a joke, or they didn’t expect the customer to see it, doesn’t matter – what matters is the reputation of a company can be diminished by incidents like this.
Now, Apple is a giant corporate organization with thousands and thousands of employees. Something like this can happen to them without a tremendous amount of repercussions. However, I’m certain Apple took note of this and is handling it internally with some sort of diversity trainings, but my question to you is – what happens when your business is in the line of fire because one of your employees did this?
If you are actively trying to attract LGBT customers or clients to your business, you need to ensure that your employees are properly trained and know how to communicate with LGBT customers. I say this often – much of the time this is not rocket science but common courtesy. I have a two part recommendation for you to avoid a possible scenario like this –
- Include your employees on your marketing plans. If you are reaching out to the LGBT community (or any other target market), let them know so they can be an educated part of this endeavor.
- Properly train your employees. Spend the money and send them to a training, hire me to do it, if you’d like ;-), or bring the training to them. Investing a lot of money on your external marketing to turn around and have your front end cashier offend the customer you’ve worked so hard to attract, is certainly not a good use of resources, not to mention it will only hurt your image in the community.
If you are looking for an inexpensive resource to help you along this path, I’ve written about the many expressions, phrases, questions, etc. that can be offensive to a potential LGBT guest on this blog. Click here to see more. I’ve also gone into great detail in my book, “No, wait… You do look gay!,” which is available on Amazon.com.