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Putting Your Team First

Organizations seek every day to differentiate themselves within their marketplace and create emotional connections.

Often that leads to processes, programs and training – and yet nothing changes in terms of service. Overall Service remains tepid and Guests are lukewarm to businesses rather than developing true loyalty.

That means that if you want to really delight your Guests you will need a motivated and empowered team.  They are in the best position to deliver amazing service and they are incredibly reflective in nature.

When you treat your team well they are far more likely to not only deliver great service, but go above and beyond in a way that exceeds expectations.  But it takes an engaged, empowered, enabled team to make that happen.

So the first question that likely jumps to mind is – well that’s great, but how do you accomplish that?

Reinforce Your Culture Through Hiring

When you hire, hire smart. There is no reason to bring on folks who don’t fit your culture. And not just your culture – what you want your culture to be when it grows up. Its like that old saying to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Yes, I just said that – but along with being trite, it is also quite true. Bring on team members who will flourish in the type of environment you seek to create, not what you currently have. Unless you have cultural nirvana brewing in your organization, in which case, good for you. But if you are like most organizations and you want to move the needle on engagement and service, then start by making sure that those you bring onto the team are well suited for your future.

Be patient and really dig deep when you interview. You may have to take a longer path to selection than you have in the past, and that ‘s okay. You will also have to interview for the attributes you seek differently – meaning that you need to watch behaviors and actions during the interview as well as listen to their responses to your questions. If they aren’t nice to you, make great eye contact, and have a little energy in their step, then keep looking.

Embrace purpose versus task

When your team has a purpose, they are more likely to put your Guest’s needs first.  Task driven organizations don’t often build the culture needed to exceed Guest expectations.

Think about the 2 workers laying bricks.  They were each asked what they did at the end of the day.

One said “I built a wall today.”

The other said “I started building a school today where people can learn.”

The difference is subtle, but one was thinking about what he did that day in terms of task and the other was more visionary about this purpose.

It is so easy to think about what we do each day like we would a task list.  Its easy to think about the parts that make up the whole without seeing the larger vision.  So if you are in banking, you may be making people’s dreams of car or home ownership come true.  Are you helping people plan for retirement, put their children through college, or start the business of their dreams.  Sure you complete the necessary forms, secure approvals, check credit, and adhere to regulations – but those are just the enablers that make the purpose come to life.

Frame it up with your teams in the context of what your Guests are trying to accomplish and you’ll find they are more apt to go to great lengths to help them achieve those goals.

Listen to your Team

If your employees know you value their opinion two almost magical things happen.

First, they are more likely to share their great ideas with you.

Second, they will embrace change and alternate thinking more readily.

Your team has way more front line contact with Guests than you do, so why not put that knowledge to good use.  They are the ones who know what hassles get in the way of their work and also what ticks off your Guests.  They also already have ideas as to how to correct those issues, and all you have to do is ask to get the benefit of that knowledge.

You won’t be able to implement every idea – some won’t be very good and others just won’t be feasible, but there is a way to cushion the fallout of that with your team.  If you communicate with your team, and share timelines and reasons why an idea can’t be put into action, they are more likely to accept it.  It is often the rockiest when an employee presents and idea and it feels like it ended up in a black hole.  Hearing nothing is terrible – at least understanding the rationale can make it easier to accept.

Make sure that you provide ample opportunities for your team to share ideas and its okay to challenge them to not just bring concerns, but ideas to make the situation better.

Empower Them

This one is the scariest of all, but without empowerment service often falls flat.  Team members not only need to know what to do, but to be given the authority to do it.

That means that you will have to give up some control and let your team take the lead.  This is important because empowered teams are more likely to buy into your culture and also to go above and beyond for Guests.

Service recovery is a great example here.  If your team needs to fix a Guest issue, they must be able to do so on the spot.  If you can teach your team the spirit of fixing Guest concerns, set up some guard rails, give them examples of what success looks like, and then set them free to serve that sets up a tremendous path for success.

Guests who have their issues fixed first time or first call (aka first call resolution) feel like they came upon a little slice of magic.  Conversely, once a manager has to get involved, it slows things down and the magic evaporates.

So take the time to train, role play, and discuss potential Guest concerns or situations, and then praise them when they deliver for Guests.  You may also have to coach them if they go too far or don’t quite manage a situation properly – just do it kindly and begin by praising them for taking the initiative.

So take time to put your team first.

Make them feel special.

Empower them.

Reward and celebrate their accomplishments.

When you put your team first, you’ll find they put Guests first.


Tony Johnson -Guest Experience Leader-

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