I was at a Starbucks this past weekend and they had employee recruiting cards positioned over by the cream and sugar. On the front of the card were two happy Starbucks employees sharing a laugh while at work. The front of the card said: Opportunity to be more than an employee. To be a partner. When you opened the card up the inside flap said: It all comes together here. Connect with something bigger, have an impact every day, and work someplace truly great. The opportunity is here - all you have to do is take it. Become a partner. Apply at starbucks.com/careers.
Take a look at your organizations recruiting material. Does it communicate a job, or an opportunity, hope, future, something bigger than the job itself? Does your recruiting material convey an inspiring and meaningful purpose where a prospective employee would say to themselves, Man, I want to be part of that!
I had one of those WOW customer service experiences this past weekend. I checked into my hotel and was given a note at the front desk which read: Dear Valued Platinum Guest, I wanted to drop you a personal note to thank you for your continued business. We appreciate your Platinum status with the Priority Club and your visit will make you part of the Holiday Inn Charlotte Center City Family. With so many choices in lodging, I am proud to know you call us home when you stay in town. Should you have a comment or concern, feel free to call me directly so I can make sure your stay is always "Excellent" each and every time you stay at my hotel. My extension is 234 and my cell number is... The next time you're by the front desk please stop by to say hello as I would like to meet you in person. With warmest regards (name) General Manager.
How would your regular customers react if you gave them a note-card like this one? Would they feel more loyal to you? Would they tell a friend? (like I'm doing on my Blog) Would they be a bit more forgiving if you had to raise your prices? Best of all, in a competitive sea of sameness, a small inexpensive gesture like this would differentiate you from your competitors. And in the end, differentiation is what wins!
How many business improvement ideas do your employees provide your organization? A recent study reported by Fast Company (July/August 2012) revealed that 64% of bosses say they inspire creativity, but only 41% of their employees agree. In terms of labor ROI, you're paying for the total employee, yet most organizations only get their employees and hands and backs to contribute to their work and not their minds.
McDonald's Egg McMuffin and Starbucks Frappuccino were products thought up by employees - not managers, store cashiers. How many of these type of ideas do your employees have locked up in their heads. All you need is one breakthrough idea that can radically change the game for your organization. Want a competitive advantage? Start mining your employees minds for new ideas of how to improve the business.
Organizations like Disney and the Ritz-Carlton refer to their employees as cast members. They frame their employee's jobs as performers on stage with the customer as the audience, watching and evaluating their performance. If you told your store employees that a casting director was going to visit their stores to recruit actors for an upcoming movie, The Greatest Customer Service Story Ever Told, would your employees perform their jobs differently in an effort to land a role in the movie? If you answered "Yes," then you've identified a performance gap: the difference between how your employees are currently delivering customer service and how they potentially could. Your organization's bottom-line depends on how successful you are at closing this gap. And in the end, your customers will thank you!
Here's something to think about for yourself, your employees, and your business. What would your customers call your job title based on the impact you are having on them? Ask this question at your next meeting. The dialogue will be eye-opening and insightful and may lead to meaningful changes within your organization.
Many companies proclaim, "We make our customers feel valued." Yet when I ask how they do it, they respond in vague generalities vs. specifics. Simply "telling" your employees to make your customers feel valued is like shooting an arrow with a blindfold into the air and hoping it hits the target. If your goal is flawless execution then you have to paint the picture by spelling it out, step by step.
Here's 8-steps you might want to consider of how to make your customers feel valued and appreciated when they visit your stores: 1) immediate eye contact and attention, 2) smile, 3) greeting - "Good morning - welcome to...", 4) use their name if you know it: Mr. Mrs. Miss, Ms. - if you don't know their name use Sir or Ma'am, 5) point out a promotion where the customer can save money, 6) offer assistance, 7) use professional language: "May I," "My pleasure," "I'll be happy to." Avoid words like: "Okay," "Sure," "No problem," and my all-time favorite, "Is that it?" 8) thank the customer, let them know you appreciate their business and you look forward to seeing them next time. Always remember, the impression your customer leaves your store with may be the first thing they recall when it's time to buy again. What impression are your store employees leaving with your customers?
One of the many attributes of Steve Jobs was his ability to capture the essence of Apple in simple language. When creating the Macintosh, his mantra was "A computer for the rest of us," the iPod, "A thousand songs in your pocket." Your ability to capture your company's reason for being in short, simple language can do wonders in getting all hands on deck, achieving organizational alignment, and accomplishing your goals faster. Here's the three point criteria you should use: 1) Simplicity - one sentence, 2) Clarity: an 8th grader would understand it, and 3) Sticky - memorable.
A recent study of 90,000 employees in eighteen countries by the consulting firm Towers Perrin found that the single highest driver of employee engagement was whether or not senior management was perceived to be sincerely interested in their employees well-being. Only 38% of employees worldwide believe their senior managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. What have you done lately to demonstrate that you care about your employees?