In Seth Godin’s recent TEDxYouth talk, “Stop Stealing Dreams,” he asked his audience to raise their right hand as high as they could. After a room full of people reached for the sky, he added, “Now, raise your hand a little higher!” Without exception, every hand in the room was raised higher. They had all held back a little, just in case a bit more might be later requested. But what if no one held back, or to take the analogy a step further, what if we delivered service to those we serve – colleagues, customers, clients, family members – that is completely unleashed from the start?
For example, we needed a large bear-proof crate that would hold a garbage can at our river home in the North Georgia mountains. Black bears are not particularly dangerous unless protecting a cub; they are just always hungry. In the spring and summer, they roam the river bank at night behind our house in search of garbage cans with an inviting aroma. Even though we chained the large can to the wall, they still crushed it from the top to forage for any tasty contents, leaving our backyard littered with garbage.
We called Bill Lorraine. Bill is a master carpenter who had added a sunroom onto the river side of our house. When a neighbor came over to inspect the finished national park style crate he commented, “Now, this is one serious crate. Why? Because even an elephant couldn’t have his way with it. But, why Bill for a small project like this?”
Our answer was: “Bill’s really, really good…he is a carpenter unleashed.”
Have a pep talk with your leashed attitude
“When people ask me ‘how do you make it in show business?’” says famed actor and comedian Steve Martin, “What I always tell them – and nobody ever takes note of it [because] it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is, ‘here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, here’s how you do this…’ But I always say: ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ If somebody’s thinking, ‘How can I be really good?’ people are going to come to you. It’s much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties.”
Service unleashed is all about being really, really good. It means customers experiencing you raising your hand as high as you can – right out of the blocks. The pursuit of excellence says to your colleagues and customers, “You are so important to me that you get my absolute best.” “Being really, really good” includes service with an attitude – an unmistakable disposition of passion and confidence.
Deliver service unleashed by paying attention to the details that, improperly maintained and managed, can spell mediocrity. It means staying on top of the subtle signals colleagues or customers experience that might disappoint. It involves thinking beyond your customer’s needs to their unspoken aspirations. And, it encompasses ensuring customers witness internal service – colleague to colleague – that matches the same standard of distinction.
Take respect to the top for your customer
Two things I remember about my very first suit. It was a powder blue suit—perfect for Easter Sunday church dress-up. And it was a “big boy” event. I was seven years old. Joseph Neel’s Men’s Wear in Macon, Georgia, was a two-hour drive from my rural hometown and we visited only every August to buy school clothes. But this purchase required a special spring journey.
The “big boy” event started with the salesperson person pulling up a chair in front of me at my eye level. He shook my hand and introduced himself by his first name, not “Mr.” Without a single glance at my dad, he asked me about my favorite color. Then he asked for my second favorite color. He asked me about my hobbies and wanted to know my best friend’s name. We were pals in a matter of minutes.
I walked out of the store very tall because I had a suit in my favorite color, a white dress shirt, a pair of shoes, and a tie in my second favorite color. Did I mention that I was seven?
Respectful service – experiences filled with admiration – starts and ends with a clear and present devotion for customers. It is affirmation laced with authenticity. It is confident deference without a hint of servitude. And it is born out of enormous pride in one’s role and workmanship manifested as a kind of invitation to the experience.
It is as if the server says, “Come witness and experience my excellent work, crafted just for you.” It is like a “random act of kindness,” only when you deliver service that is respectful, it is not random; it is perpetual.
And always deliver service that is first class
My business partner and I were working with a client in Nicaragua. One evening we elected to skip the hotel grill and try the hotel’s upscale restaurant – Factory Steak and Lobster. We were in for a special treat. So I ordered my usual Jack Daniels whiskey on the rocks. In every restaurant in America, this request would yield a highball glass brought to the table already filled with ice plus the special adult beverage ready to drink. Because of that practice, I have sometimes gotten cheap bourbon poorly disguised as Jack, as well as a drink the bartender apparently measured with a thimble instead of a jigger.
But at the Real Metrocentro InterContinental in Managua, I was not served Jack Daniels. It was presented to me! The waiter brought a tray containing a full bottle of Jack, an empty chilled glass, a container of ice, and a tall shot glass. The glass was then filled with ice – one cube at a time, and placed before me. The bottle was presented much like a wine steward might present a chosen bottle of wine. Then, assuming approval, the Tennessee whiskey was poured into the shot glass. Finally, lovingly poured into the ice-filled highball glass! A simple shot of whiskey was treated like pricey Dom Perignon champagne. That’s how you deliver service that resonates.
Then make it magical!
What if you found a way to make the mundane magical? What if every service moment was treated as an extraordinary event for a cherished customer? The check-in hotel clerk would come from behind the desk to give you your room key. The taxi driver would take your luggage all the way into the hotel lobby. The service tech would explain your auto repair kneeling eye level with you as you sat comfortably.
Customers are not interested in being treated as royalty served by a slave. But, they do notice when the service they receive clearly indicates they are treasured. If your customers gave your service a letter grade, what grade would you get? What steps can you take to make an A+ on your next customer report card? Deliver service that is the best you have, and their best will come back to you.
For more on customer engagement, see 5 Steps to Your Customer’s Heart with Emotionally Aware Computing.
“Service Unleashed” is the copyrighted name of a suite of new customer service training programs designed by Chip Bell and co-owned and delivered by Forrest Performance Group (fpg.com).Comments