The latest videos in our One in 1 Hundred Million series celebrate a couple of customer service stars. Nicco is the night manager at a hotel, while Catie is a server in a Japanese restaurant. It’s interesting to watch these two videos together. Both of these folks are in service jobs that can be grueling. They’re expected to create a pleasing experience for everybody they encounter, but not everybody they encounter is going to make that easy.
What strikes me as I listen to Catie and Nicco speak is how much enthusiasm they bring to their work. They acknowledge the challenges, but both talk about the pleasure it gives them to create a memorable experience for their guests.
Watch Catie and Nicco’s stories and comment below. What’s your most memorable experience in the hospitality industry?
In a recent New York Times Magazine article entitled Thinking Outside the (Big) Box, Adam Davidson (of NPR’s “Planet Money) talks about a great customer service experience he had at Ikea recently when he went shopping for a closet system. He found the staff to be both available and helpful. He was surprised given that he’d had a prior experience years ago that wasn’t so hot, so he decided to investigate what had changed. He spoke with an executive at Ikea and learned the following:
“This wasn’t a fluke. A couple of days later, Rob Olson, the C.F.O. of Ikea U.S., told me that since my last visit, the company had invested in a new (Kronos) work-force-management system that reminded me of much of Ton’s thesis. The software helps the company to better distribute workers throughout the store, so that there are more of them in the areas where people have the most questions, like closets.”
The “Ton” referred to above is Zeynep Ton, a business professor at MIT and author of the new book “The Good Jobs Strategy”. In the book (available next week) Ton argues that paying workers more and treating them better is better for the bottom line. In her research for the book, Ton learned that even low cost retailers can provide good jobs for their employees while keeping costs low for their customers. In the low cost retail sector, she found that the best employers operated on 4 key principles:
They offered fewer choices to their customers
They cross-trained their employees
They standardize processes while empowering employees to do the right thing for the customer
They “operate with slack”; i.e. they staff at levels that enable employees to spend time with customers
For those of you needing some Hump Day humor – and a little perspective – I offer some tidbits from my past life running a Services organization for a software company. One of the teams I was responsible for was customer support – the folks on the phone 12 hours a day who handled all our customer calls and emails. Although our product was a software as a service solution, every client environment was uniquely configured. This made support a challenge.
We had a great team who supported each other through thick and thin. One of them kept a running log of funny things he overheard his colleagues saying to customers. I recently came across this list and thought I’d share it with you – not to make fun of these folks, but to reflect that those folks on the other side of the phone are real people, working hard under often challenging circumstances. They’re being measured on both the volume of customers they serve and the quality of those responses. Sometimes they might say something goofy in the heat of the moment. Give ’em the benefit of the doubt, because they really want to help you.
And here, for your midweek enjoyment, are some of the funnier things our help desk people said to customers:
“I’m a child of spell-check nation.”
“Part of my new year’s resolution is less action items, more action.”
“Forgive me for being proactive, but…”
“There’s 3 ways to do this. The easy way, the mid-difficult way, and then there’s the platinum way”
“If you think about it logically, which I was not doing”
“Like my Dad always says, ‘Why are divorces so expensive? Because it’s worth it.’”
“I’m from a big banana bread family”
“When I first saw this tool, I said, ‘we’re drinking our own Kool-Aid here.’”
“I know you guys are dealing with academics, so you’ve got plenty of Good Will Hunters running around”
“Feel free to send a premeditated nastygram”
In case you’ve been out of the country lately, you owe it to yourself to check out the Geico Camel and his celebration of Hump Day.
The 3rd book in the series published by The Workforce Institute at Kronos cleverly introduces nine common workforce management pitfalls as seen through the eyes of frontline employees Bob and Bobbie. Through a collection of practical ideas, innovative practices, and tips on how to win with your employees, you’ll learn how to unburden your workforce, put the best team on the field, and help your people do their best every day through continuous improvement and innovation. Written by some of today’s most respected leaders in workforce management, HR, and HCM, It’s All About Bob(bie) is a how-to guide for creating a virtuous cycle of employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and bottom line success in your 21st century workplace — for everybody from the frontline workforce to the CEO.