November 13, 2008 -
I had ordered my meal from a pleasant young waitress in a Thai restaurant in Melbourne's Chinatown and was sipping a nice meriot, thinking I had a free hour the next day, which I could use to visit a music store if only I knew where the closest one was located.
The expression on my face must have indicated I was thinking about something because a young waiter walked past, looked at me, did a double-take and approached my table.
"Is everything alright, sir," he asked.
I said it was and asked if they had the Yellow Pages handy. He said they did, so I asked if he could bring it to me. I added I was interested only in the 1M' section so he did not have to lug over both volumes. In a flash he was back, handing me the relevant volume opened.
"Here you are, sir - the "M" section."
Impressed at his attention to detail, I flipped to 'Mu' and started looking through the list of musical instrument stores. The next thing I knew, the young chap was back, offering me a pad and pen.
"I thought you mind find these useful, sir," he said with a smile.
Later, after I had finished my meal, I caught this waiter's attention and called him over to my table. Congratulating him on his excellent customer service, I asked him where he had learned to pay attention to what was going on around him and to use his initiative to do the little things that delighted customers.
"It's just common sense, isn't it sir?" he replied.
I told him such concern for the customer might be common sense to him but it certainly was not common practice.
He smiled. "I was taught to keep my eyes open," he said, "and then do what made sense to me. So that's what I do. I look around and if I see something that requires attention, I do what I think is the best thing to do in that situation."
Imagine if your staff were on the lookout for the little things they could do that would delight your customers! What difference would it make to the experience your customers had? How much would it increase your revenue? And most importantly, how can you get your staff to care enough to be observant and to use their initiative?
Here are six steps for engaging the hearts and minds of your staff so your customers walk away saying, "Wow! That experience was different!"
1. Explain the need.
Nothing motivates more than vested selfinterest. Focus your staff on looking after your customers by regularly asking these three questions:
1. Who do you work for?
2. Who pays your wages?
3. Who is the boss around here?
The answer to all three questions is, of course, THE CUSTOMER. Another point worth making frequently is that 100 percent of your money, the money you use to pay their wages, comes from customers.
2. Set the expectation.
When you hire staff, when you do performance reviews, in fact whenever you are chatting to someone, tell them you expect them to look for small ways they can help the customer, and to deliver that help before the customer asks for it. Explain this also applies to their internal customers. By delighting their colleagues, they will build team spirit, increase morale and make it easier for people to delight their customers.
3. Set an example.
If your staff watched you during the day, what would they conclude was most important? Do they see and hear you talk about doing the minimum necessary or about going the extra mile? Are your conversations driven by can-do, will-do thinking or are you giving reasons why things cannot be done? Your people will take their lead from you. Which signals are you sending?
4. Remove the fear.
One of the biggest obstacles to staff using their initiative is the fear they will get In trouble. Reassure your staff that as long as they stay within the boundaries of company policy, they will not be criticised for doing what makes sense to them at the time. When people do occasionally do something you think is wrong, use it as an opportunity to teach them something about your business and how to look after customers. But first praise them for spotting the opportunity and for using their initiative.
If you want your staff to use their initiative you will need to make a point of catching them doing it right. Watch your people to find opportunities to praise them for doing those little things that delight. If you cannot find many, they are not using their initiative or you are not observant enough. Either way, there is a problem you need to fix.
6. Hold staff accountable.
Successful people management is based on being 50 percent supportive and 50 percent demanding. Once you have implemented the five previous steps, hold your staff accountable for delivering delighters. Make it clear that simply doing their job is not enough. Delighted customers are the result of doing the unexpected. This is what you are paying them to do.
Getting your staff to do the little things that delight customers will enhance your reputation and grow your business. Research shows that when New Zealanders have a great experience they not only tell nine others, more than 50 percent recommend the business that delighted them. That is why I am suggesting you dine at Sawadee in Chinatown next time you are in Melbourne.
"I was taught to keep my eyes open and then do what made sense to me."
Dr Ian Brooks (wvwv. ianbrooks. com) is a leading expert in customer care and chairman of the NZ Association of Customer Excellence (vwwv. nzace. co.nz).
Copyright Adrenalin Publishing Ltd. Nov 2008
(c) 2008 NZ Business. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.
Original publication date: 2008-11-01
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.