Entries Tagged as 'When Great Service Happens To Good People'

One Employee Serving One Customer at a Time

A couple of years ago I wrote about some of the struggles Home Depot was experiencing, along with some recommendations for reclaiming the positive brand image they once commanded in the minds of customers – Sacrificing Customer Service – Lessons from Home Depot.

Blogger Alan Gregerman sent me a link to one of his posts in which he states, “This is going to sound strange, but I actually had a great customer experience at Home Depot this week.” He says it sounds strange because, “I’ve come to expect a lot of frustration whenever I shop at Home Depot. Sure I appreciate their low prices and large inventory, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more help on occasion. Or a bit more knowledge, guidance, interest, and engagement.”

Check out his post at Dear Home Depot.

What Alan’s story says to me is this – All of our visions, strategies, and tactics hinge on one employee serving one customer at a time.

If Home Depot, or any other organization, wants to claim a warm spot in their customers’ hearts, they have to engage the hearts and minds of their frontline employees in the effort. The process for engagement is straight forward, but it takes long-term commitment from the organization’s leadership:

  1. Define what the customer experience is supposed to be – your Service Philosophy and Service Standards.
  2. Use every communication tool you have to reinforce the importance of customer service, share best practices, customer perspectives, etc.
  3. Ensure that customer service is a key element of ALL training opportunities.
  4. Use behavioral interviewing in order to hire applicants who are wired for service excellence.
  5. Recognize and reward those who live your service values.
  6. Make service excellence NON-NEGOTIABLE for every member of the organization by building your service values into all accountability mechanisms.
  7. Identify and remove process obstacles that inhibit delivering excellent service.

The Home Depot associate Alan describes in his blog post is clearly wired for service excellence. If Home Depot can multiply that associate’s enthusiasm by 317,000 (their current staff) they’d really have something. It can be done.

Customer Service Assignment

As we come into the weekend, try giving your team this informal assignment. As they go about their weekend activities, ask them to to consciously notice the level of service they receive as they interact with companies and their employees. Ask them to look at the physical environment, observe employees as they serve them as well as other customers, and pay attention to the processes they experience during the interaction. What was good? What was not so good? What what was dismal? Ask them to mentally note as many details as possible.

At your next team meeting, request that members of your team share their observations and how the experiences make them feel. Did the experience make them definitely want to come back? definitely not want to come back? or just leave them neutral? Then ask the group how their observations relate to your organization and to their own jobs. This is a quick benchmarking experience that can pay great dividends.

When Walt Disney was planning Disneyland, he sent his “Imagineers” to visit amusement parks and carnivals, and to observe what customers liked and didn’t like. He used this knowledge (particularly the dislikes) in the design of Disneyland. Rather than a haphazard layout, everything would be organized and themed. Rather that surly “ride operators,” Disneyland would have “hosts and hostesses” who treated customers as “guests.” Much of what makes the Disney parks what they are today came from this simple strategy of observing competitors and putting the knowledge to work.

Why not send an email to your team today? Simply ask them to pay attention to their experiences over the weekend, note how those experiences made them feel, and be prepared to discuss it at your next team meeting. I’m convinced it will be an eye-opening and beneficial exercise for the entire team.

Wow Service Example

The customer service example below comes from Springfield Clinic, a wonderful organization I’ve mentioned in my blog before. There are two things I appreciate in this example:

1. It demonstrates that opportunities to truly wow customers are all around us. It might not be possible to take advantage of every opportunity every time, but when we can – we should. You can bet that the customers in this story will remember the kind gesture forever, and imagine how many friends and family they’ve shared the story with.

2. It demonstrates a commitment to sharing great service stories. Not only do team members get recognized for their efforts, others reading the story might be inspired to create their own wow for a customer. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, “Celebration of achievements creates a culture of achievement.”

Enjoy the story:Springfield Clinic

“Dr. Lytchakov’s patient needed to be admitted to the hospital. The patient was upset because she was being admitted on her husband’s birthday. She tearfully explained that she had planned to bake her husband’s favorite key lime pie to make his day special. Now there would be no birthday celebration, no pie, not even a card. The pie could wait till another day, but Dr.Lytchakov’s nurse Debbie understood completely. She retrieved the patient’s husband from the waiting room to comfort his wife and then Debbie went to work. She had an important task at hand. She couldn’t come up with a key lime pie, but no birthday should go by unnoticed. She pulled out her glitter markers and began to design a “Hallmark by Debbie” birthday greeting card. Purple, pink and green lettering adorned the card. She found some highlighter pens to create the design and when it was done, she proudly presented the card to the patient’s husband. Both the patient and her spouse were sincerely touched by Debbie’s thoughtful gesture. It warms my heart to see this kind of caring. It is the healing touch that makes the difference in the lives of the patients we serve. This is a beautiful example of an excellent patient experience. The time invested was minimal, but the impact will last a lifetime! I imagine that this is a gift that will be remembered as birthdays and key lime pies come and go. Dr. Lytchakov provides compassion and kindness to all of his patients. He and Debbie make an excellent team. They are a wonderful representation of the Springfield Clinic Way!”

 What opportunities do you have to wow a customer…right now?


Proactive Customer Service

One of the blogs I regularly read is Customers Are Always, hosted by Maria Palmer. She just posted a great article, “Proactive Behavior: A Sign of Service Excellence,” which was written by a guest contributor.

I have experienced the situation the writer discusses (picking up the wrong bag at the airport), and certainly agree that the type of proactive behavior described results in walk-through-fire customer loyalty.

See what you think about the article – I’d love to hear your feedback.