In this video I focus on the core expectations our customers have of us, and how that knowledge can help us deliver excellent experiences.
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:
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?
My wife and I are in the middle of a major home interior renovation. Seeing my home completely torn up has caused me several times to get on my knees and ask my wife, “How did I let you talk me into this?” She quietly assures me that it will be worth it when it’s done. She seems so sure of herself that it calms me (at least for a few minutes).
Right now workers are installing travertine throughout the house. I must say that seeing them work does bring me a sense of confidence because of the very evident pride they take in their work. In fact, rather than workers, they’re really artisans. They’re creating a beautiful floor that I can already tell I’m going to love.
How do I know they’re proud of their work?
So what does this all have to do with business?
As customers, we can always tell when a person takes pride in his or her job. From their tone of voice to the look in their eyes, pride is evident. And a lack of pride in the job is just as clear, maybe even more so. I find that employees who are proud of what they do have some consistent traits:
I’m sure you can come up with other traits of proud employees (this wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list), but I think it’s a pretty good list.
Now think about employees you’ve experienced who demonstrated the opposite of what I’ve described. Those employees who simply process you through their system, blame other employees or departments for problems, or exhibit an “I just work here” attitude. You would never describe those employees as proud, would you? And how long would you continue doing business with an organization that is filled with employees who have no pride in their work. The only thing such companies can compete on is price – and that’s a pretty tough thing to compete on (and not very rewarding).
6 Actions leaders can take to build pride in the workplace
Again, this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. But imagine the outcome of implementing these six strategies. Imagine having an entire team of employees who take intense pride in their work. Imagine the trust that would be generated with customers who interact with an organization full of proud employees. I think that’s the key business outcome of all of this: customer trust. When customers deal with employees who are clearly proud of their roles and of their organization, they trust those employees to take good care of them. And a high level of trust equals a high level of loyalty. I totally trust the artisans installing the new floor in my house. My wife and I would happily use them in the future, and will confidently recommend them to others. We trust them because their pride shows through in their work.
Something to think about: What specific employee behaviors in your workplace demonstrate intense pride in the job? How often are you seeing those behaviors?