The only way that we can consistently delight our customers is if we are truly present for them – truly “in the moment.” If we’re not in the moment, we miss the visual, verbal, or even written clues customers are constantly giving us, and we end up processing customers through our systems. And no matter how well our systems are designed, most customers HATE feeling processed. They want to feel important, listened to, and respected. They want to feel valued. Valued customers come back; processed customers merely tolerate our organization until something better comes along. And something better almost always comes along.
Falling into robotic, transaction-like service is easy when we’re not present. A recent example with a flight attendant innocently, but hilariously, demonstrated what not being in the moment looks like and sounds like. She was walking down the aisle of the plane handing out peanuts and other snacks. Of course her next duty was to walk back down the aisle picking up trash. Unfortunately she accidentally combined the scripts. Instead of saying, “Would you like a snack?” later followed by, “Can I pick up any trash?” she mindlessly asked, “Would you like any trash?” as she handed out the snacks. I heard her say this to about ten passengers until she reached me. Everyone looked confused, but no one said anything. With a chuckle I said, “I don’t want any trash, but I WILL have a Kit Kat bar.” She froze for a moment, then burst out laughing and whispered to me, “Have I been saying that to everyone?” I gently told her she had indeed said it to everyone.
We’ve all been guilty of not being present for our customers. Our minds drift to something other than the customer we’re dealing with. We could be thinking about the next thing we need to do, or a problem we’re having, or our plans for the weekend, or the ten thousand other things that go through our minds every day. Each time our mind drifts away from our customer, we risk treating that customer as a task to be completed and not as an opportunity to create a positive customer experience.
One simple strategy for setting the stage for being present is holding morning or shift huddles. How we start the day (or the shift) effects everything to follow. So, why not make sure things start off right? A 5-10 minute team huddle can include:
- A positive service story from the previous day.
- An example of one employee setting up another for success in a customer situation.
- A positive customer letter.
- A motivational quote.
- Reinforcement of an organizational value.
- The “customer service objective of the day.”
The idea is to get everyone in the right mood for being present for customers; to be in the moment so that they can delight customers.
But what if you’re an individual in an organization and your company or department doesn’t have morning huddles? Well, you can suggest starting them and even volunteer to lead them. But you don’t have to wait for anyone else to do anything. You can start your own day or shift off right by reflecting on any of the items mentioned above. One software help desk employee said that she puts a Post It note on the side of her computer screen every day with her “focus thought of the day.” It might be the word “Listen,” or “Smile,” or “Compassion.” The point is that her word of the day keeps her present and in the moment for her customers. This idea might sound simplistic, but I would say it isn’t simplistic, it’s simple, which is why it works.
Something to think about: Are you and the other members of your organization “in the moment” for your customers? What can you do to start the day off right so that you increase the likelihood of being present for your customers?