Be Your Best Self(ie) When Serving Guests
I was entering a convention center this week and I watched the arriving group as they walked up to the building. To put it in perspective, this was a massive event. The excitement in the air was palpable and the building was covered in colorful banners highlighting the events to come.
It was clear that all the folks attending this conference were excited to say the least.
How do I know? Because they were all stopping to take selfies in front of the building. They were working hard to get the right angle, the right light, the right positioning of the logo behind them – all to show their very best selves in the photograph.
Here was the eye opening part. I watched many of these attendees walk to their chosen photo area, stone faced and emotionless, looking nearly miserable. Then as they turned their phone on themselves, their faces lit up, their smiles beamed, and there was passion and enthusiasm in their eyes.
They snapped a few well timed photos – and then the lights went out.
It was almost as if something died inside of them once they finished taking their photos. Even when they engaged with their colleagues and chatted about the exciting day to come, their enthusiasm never quite matched the energy they had in those photos.
So this made me think for a moment about authentic service and genuine leadership.
It also made me think for a moment about how ridiculous I must look sometimes taking selfies.
But authenticity is one of the most important things a leader can bring – because it breeds trust. It also inspires authenticity throughout your organization and that impacts the Guest experience. Guests can easily spot genuine care versus fake energy, and they reward those brands who bring trust, transparency, and honesty to their experience.
Authentic leaders do the following:
Lead with Heart
Authentic leaders don’t keep emotion out of their work, they harness it to be successful. Passion and caring are important parts of being a leader – and even in some cases showing a little vulnerability. Being emotionless doesn’t make you a good leader, it makes you a robot. And if you’ve seen as much sci-fi as I have, you know that never ends well. But be sure you don’t let your emotions run away with you – because overly emotional leaders are just as ineffective. You have to strike a balance that brings passion without being aggressive; fun without seeming frivolous; and hopeful without naivety.
Establish a Purpose
True leaders help their teams serve with purpose. Consider your Guests’ “job to be done,” and plot a course to help them get there. Remember, running a gym is about wellness, amusement parks deliver shared family experiences, and banks can make the dream of starting a business come true. So look beyond the loan forms, ticket taking, and cleaning the gym equipment to find the larger purpose. Help your team discover their purpose and also what their dreams are as well. It makes it easier to serve Guests with care when you find your purpose.
They Live Their Brand
Authentic leaders know their values and live their brand. They may adjust their thinking on issues or tasks, but their core values remain the same. Leaders who know themselves well, and don’t compromise on what matters most to them, inspire team loyalty and trust. These are kind of leaders that if they value family, they don’t compromise. They don’t miss many family events, games, or recitals – and they inspire their teams to find ways to make it to their special events as well. They work their schedules and their deadlines so that they can attend family events. If they value innovation, they aren’t afraid to take chances and they inspire that calculated risk taking in their teams. These are also the leaders who move to new opportunities if their values don’t align with those of the organization – for the good of both.
They Establish True Relationships
We’ve all had leaders who seem distant and uninterested in us until they need something. They suddenly care about our development or our families or recognizing our excellence when there is a report they need or when they need someone to work late. That feels obviously manipulative and doesn’t lead to true engagement from teams. True relationships are built day by day with care and enthusiasm. They are build 5 minutes at a time by showing genuine interest in the team through getting to know them, recognizing their good work, and developing them so that they can grow.
This is all by way of saying the authentic service drives business results and inspires loyalty.
So inspire your team to find their own personalized voice when it comes to service.
You may follow a list of steps when it comes to serving Guests, which can lead to consistency and checking all the boxes – and also boredom. Help your team make service their own by bringing their style into the mix, while staying true to the service steps you have implemented. There is more than one way to welcome a Guest or to wish them well as they depart.
But above all, make sure that service feels fun, honest, and seamless with their experience.
Tony Johnson -Guest Experience Leader-
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