The Power of Friendliness is Magical!

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We all have seen on TV,  social media and or personally experienced the poor customer service received from employees in the airline industry. Since I fly and deliver talks and training all over the globe, I get to witness first-hand some of the lack of acknowledgment or welcome greeting, non-friendly smiles, boredom and non-caring  attitudes on the part of many flight attendants.

It always amazes me that you would think when passengers enter and depart the plane, the flight attendants would take this great opportunity to make a first and last impression. Most give you very little eye contact while they are too busy chatting with their coworkers or busy preparing for the beverage service when you enter the plane. Once in a while, you might get a friendly greeting or simple hello. Being friendly should be the expected standard but I find it mostly a hit or miss experience.

However, I recently had a wonderful experience while flying and when I look back as to why it was such an enjoyable flight the answer was simple. ALL of the flight attendants were extremely friendly. Oh they didn’t go out of their way to do anything special or unique. They just all had great friendly attitudes and it made a big difference in my experience. The flight attendants seem to be enjoying their jobs, speaking friendly to a variety of customers all during the flight. What a pleasurable experience and all because they were friendly to people. How hard was that?

Friendly and likable go hand and hand. Friend is the root word of friendly. And if all things being equal or not, people want to do business with their friends and people they like.

Friendly is also an attitude. One that should be in constant positive mode so that all possible contact points with a customer and possible connections will be memorable.  The standard and expectations are so low in today’s world that even a simple greeting and hello will go a long way and make the experience enjoyable. Even when other factors are equal or not.

As far as the airline industry is concerned. You can follow Walt Disney’s philosophy and change it slightly while stating; “You can build and create the most wonderful planes and airline efficiency in the world, but takes friendly caring people to make the dream of being successful a reality.”  I truly enjoyed my experience flying that day and it was just because the flight attendants were friendly and sincere. The perception was that they enjoyed their jobs, were interested in their customers and most of all cared about our experience.

Take a look at your own business and ask yourself or your team these questions:

-  Are you or your people friendly and engage customers all the time?

-  Do you or your people go out of the way to provide eye contact, acknowledgment and a sincere greeting, thank you or goodbye to customers?

-  Do you or your people strike up and initiate friendly conversations with customers.

If you want to start creating a friendly atmosphere and environment in your business or organization, try this: Challenge your team to compliment people at random and see if you can get 10 or more people to smile back at you. As you do this exercise, you will see how simple and easy it is to get people to smile back at you. Make it a habit, a way of life in your business. Do it because you want to, not because you have to. In a few days you will see remarkable changes in people attitudes, friendliness and a joy to be around with. I promise you, it will help make your team, business and customer experience Magical!

Caring About Your Customer Is Magical!

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As many of you know, I present over  100 keynotes, seminars and workshops for all types of industries around the world. Many times, I work specifically training and coaching individual businesses to help them create a better experience for their customers and employees to help them be more successful. I love rolling up my sleeves to serve and help them achieve their goals. One particular client of mine has truly taken what they have learned, applies those strategies and is seeing the results based on the commitment of their actions of what they learned from my workshops. They certainly walk the talk.

Here is one of the many examples shared with me from the TrueCore Federal Credit Union, Newark, OH employees who continue to create “magical” experiences for their members. A small and simple choice to demonstrate that you really care about your customers. Thank you Heather for sharing it.

Just a little story to warm your heart this Sunday. For more than a year now, TrueCore has held an ongoing celebration of the magical moments our team creates for our members and one another. This week, one of our tellers told me she was learning sign language. I assumed it was for college and inquired more. She told me she noticed that one of our members had trouble hearing but could use sign language so she wanted to learn so she could help give a better experience. She wasn’t doing this to impress anyone or earn college credit for herself, she was doing this in her own spare time with her heart to help another human being. I was overwhelmed and just had to share a little good happening in our world. So proud of our amazing team. Thanks John Formica for helping us learn to celebrate and create magic every day. 

As you can see, creating a unique and magical customer experience can be nothing more than performing a kind and simple caring act. When a business takes the time to define their purpose and promise message, communicates it effectively to their staff so that the employees truly know and understand what the real purpose of serving others actually looks like, combined with the support, encouragement and recognition from the company’s leadership team is when an organization achieves the success they are looking for. The key secret is allowing the front line employee to actually be able to carry out an example of the purpose and appreciate their efforts no matter how big or small they might be. Walt Disney said it best: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”  The staff at TrueCore are certainly the ones doing and their results are “magical”.

Relationship Experiences Create Magic!

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All businesses, whether they provide a service or sell a product are really in the relationship business first. To whatever degree, all businesses and service has the opportunity to form a relationship. Even if it is an online transaction or if the service last only a few seconds, like the initial greeting of a customer, the immediate response when dealing with customer problems or even providing a short compliment to a customer.

Over 70 percent of guests at the Disney parks are repeat visitors with many being multiple visits. What is interesting is that many have come to call parts of their visit as “my favorite park”, “our hotel”, or “my restaurant”. It is almost as if they have taken ownership of the park or resort hotel and pride that comes along with it. Guests have created a bond and a relationship with certain parts of the park, hotel or employees who are connected with them. This makes them ambassadors and will share their experiences with others.

This is why building relationships are so important to Disney. It costs an average family nearly $1,500 per day to visit yet Disney makes it a business decision to build relationships with their guests by creating experiences so unique and memorable, that it makes them want to return over and over again. Disney focuses on building relationships and the trust that goes with it over years and in some cases over generations. In fact, is not uncommon to find guests who have enjoyed the Disney experience for nearly 60 years. What do think is the lifetime value of that customer?

You have to look at your customers and clients, not as a transaction unit but as a possible lifetime relationship with them. The secret behind building relationships and creating relationship experiences begins with the way you connect with your customers and how they view it and feel valued. Do your customers feel like a transaction for dollars or a relationship that you care?

Does your business and staff have a commitment to building relationships and developing lifelong customers? Building relationships can take time and effort, but they are the foundation for creating loyal ambassadors promoting and telling the world about your business.

Here a few tips that will help you stay connected and begin building relationships with your customers:

1. Have a system to keep your regular customers informed of sales, specials, or opportunities of interest.  Follow up and get back with your customers to ensure they are satisfied. They will learn to count on you.

2. Add value by offering something more than the customers expected or giving them a little extra. Value is the basis for building a relationship. It tells them that you appreciate their business and want them to return.

3. Make sure everyone in your business understands the value of building relationships with your customers. Recognize, reward, talk about it at staff meetings, share examples and let them know it is part of every ones  job responsibilities.

If you build lasting relationships with your customers, they will return again and again. You will also be referred and recommended and that’s when a business begins to see real  growth and profitability. Now that is Magical!

Understand Your Customer’s Fears

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Sometimes people’s real needs have little to do with logic. They are usually emotional instead. It may be that people who contact you or come in to your business are unsure of what they really want. They may be afraid of the buying or servicing process. Many customers are confused by product claims. When it comes to getting their cars or appliances serviced, they feel very inadequate in communicating with the service advisers or repairman.

When I work with my clients in the Auto Service repair industry and conduct training programs for their sales and customer service staff, we focus on listening and asking the right questions. The biggest challenge that they had in the beginning in listening to their customers, was a gigantic problem they seemed unaware of at the time. The simple fact was that customers are terrified of the car servicing experience. The goal of my training for any business, is to learn how to ask sensitive questions that will get the customer to talk about their fears.  When a new customer, comes into your business they are usually closed, suspicious and defensive. Try to come around the counter, introduce yourself, sit in a chair in the waiting area if available and tell them that you would like to ask a few questions to better understand their needs and wants.

For example, I use these questions with my auto dealership clients but you can tailor them to any business.

  • “So, what kind if car (running shoe, appliance, home, etc ) are you driving?”
  • “How do you use your car?”
  • “What are some of the features you want in a car?”
  • “What have you looked at so far either in person or online?”                                                                            

 After those questions the next goal is to understand their fears by asking this question.“What unpleasant experiences  have you had in shopping for cars in the past?” 

Once the customer shares their fears with you, empathize with them and thank them for telling you this. Most customers will appreciate you for listing but mostly for caring.  This will form a bond of trust which is so important in the decision making process, not just price. Price might seem the most logical reason to buy but remember, people don’t always think or decide purely for logical reasons. They are frequently influenced emotionally- by fears, need for recognition, selfish motivations or momentary moods. All that are often illogically.

Asking open-ended questions will not only help you understand your customers, but it will demonstrate your concern and care for their needs and wants. Asking these type of questions and listening to your customer’s responses can help you gain and enjoy trust and help build relationships with your customers. When you understand what your customers really want, their fears and why they came to your business or contacted you, you’ll just naturally be in position to help them.

When you develop trust and build relationships with your customers FIRST you will build customer loyalty for life and a business that will LAST. Now that is MAGICAL!

Researching Your Competition is Magical!

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When was the last time you thought about your competition or did  a little research on them? If you haven’t in a while, you can be rest assured that your competitors are probably thinking about you more than you think you’re thinking about them. This leads to an interesting question you need to be asking yourself about the competition. “How different is our business from our competitors?”

In the big scheme of customer satisfaction. customer care, value and the experience, who is better? You or your competitors? In what area do your competitors beat you? What areas do you excel over them? Price? Location? Size? Availability of your products? Convenience? Reliability? Responsiveness of your staff? Guarantees? 24 Hour Service? Friendly, knowledgeable and courtesy staff? Cleanliness? Easily accessible and the list can go on. How are you different? How are you the same?

Don’t take these questions or answers for granted, assume you already know them by heart or think your customers don’t care. In the day to day operation of your business, it’s sometimes easy to forget the things that your customers or competitors are thinking about you.

I offer and provide many of my clients “Mystery Experience Evaluations” to help them get a true real picture of what their customers are experiencing when doing business. It is more than just a typical “Mystery Shoppers Report” which mostly focuses on “service”. It can be helpful but is not as effective. As a business, it is more important to know and understand the customer “experience” which drives emotions. Emotions and feelings lead to customer loyalty. You need to know why your customers do business with you. You also need to know why your customers are doing business with your competitors.

Tips for Checking Out Your Competition: (Without anyone knowing who you are.)

1.  Evaluate on different days of the week as well as different times of the day.

2. Call your competitors on the phone and observe their greetings, voice, tone and responsiveness

3. Visit their web-site or app. Is it easy to follow, informative, attractive?

4. Visit their location and observe, cleanliness, approachable staff, eager to help, knowledge.

5. Observe the team work, atmosphere, signage, displays, specials offered, guarantees.

6, Speak to their customers and ask why they choose to do business there, or what is unique with the experience.

Today, it’s not just price and customer satisfaction that makes you competitive. It is all about the “experience” and other value factors that make the difference. If you and your sales people are constantly complaining that business is slow based on prices and service, it is time for you to check out your competition to see why you are the same and why you are different. Researching your competition may give you the “Magical” feedback you need!

There Is No Loyalty When Everything Looks The Same!

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on just want to try someone else.”

Why did my client’s customer leave his business? To give another business a try and see what else is out there. To my client’s customer,  his business looked the same as everyone else. Yes my client did deliver on his promise to satisfy the customer. What he failed to do was differentiate his business in a way that created an emotional connection with this customer. When I asked my client to tell me more about the relationship he had with this customer, I discovered that this customer was never contacted or sent a thank you note for years. He unfortunately assumed that because he was delivering good service and the customer never complained that his client was satisfied and would be loyal. Satisfied yes! Loyal not so much. The customer probably left because they did not feel appreciated or respected. My client neglected to touch the customer’s emotions.

Today, focusing just on customer satisfaction will no longer result in customer loyalty and give you a competitive edge. In the eyes of your customers, every product or service looks the same. When that happens your product, service or business is just a commodity and your customer is most likely to try someone else or make a decision based solely on a competitor’s lower price.

Perhaps you may have a unique product or service. The question I would ask you is, how long do you think that will last until some other business down the road, in your community or on the internet matches what you have or convinces your customers that theirs is better?

Customer loyalty heart

Your front line staff, account representatives, sales people and leaders are the most connected to your customers and the customer experience. This is where the rubber meets the road and why they are the ones who have an opportunity to build and create unique and enduring emotional connections with their customers and clients.  It is how Disney creates such loyalty.

It is also the reason why I am so passionate and focused when I speak at events, conduct training programs or spend so much time with my coaching clients and their teams to show them how they can create that same Disney-like culture and emotional connection in their business or organization too!  If you want to create long-term revenues, profit streams and a successful business, focus on building relationships. tapping into your customer’s emotions and take real action on a regular basis to show that you truly care and appreciate their business. Now that would be MAGICAL!

Keeping Your Good People To Stay Is Magical!

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Have you ever had an employee come up to you and say: “I quit!, I’m giving you my notice, I found another opportunity, I found a better job.” If any of those comments strike fear in your heart or make your stomach sink, you are probably not alone.  Anyone managing or supervising others, no matter what line of work, cringes when they hear those statements. Especially when the person saying it is one of your best all-star players who is critical to your team and business success.

These are good, talented employees that you simply cannot afford to lose. They are the shining light employees who make your customers happy and the experience magical. When they left have you ever asked yourself: “If I’d only known.”, “Why didn’t they tell me?”, “I could have done something.”

The simple question is has anyone asked your employees what keeps them at your business? Has anyone asked what might lure good people away? Have you? If not, why not? Why do we beat our heads against the wall trying to figure out why good people leave after they leave but neglect asking early enough to make a difference before they leave.

When coaching my clients, I strongly suggest taking the time to conduct exit interviews when good people leave. It is important to know why they are leaving. Sometimes it is out of the control of the manager but many times it surprises the managers when they find out how small the reason is for leaving. Most employees tell me that their managers never asked.

What if you don’t ask? What if you just keep on trying to guess what your top employees really want? I am sure you might guess right sometimes. Unless you ask, you really don’t know and more importantly might never have an opportunity to change the outcome.

Asking can also have a positive side effect. The person you ask will feel that you cared, they are valued and important. Many times that will lead to stronger loyalty and commitment to you and your business. In other word, just asking the question can be a great retention strategy. Just do it and ask!

Some managers find it uncomfortable to ask the direct question, “What will keep you here?” Perhaps your employees might be hesitant to answer. If so, try this and ask: “Think of a time when you stayed with one company for a fairly long time. What kept you there? Jot down two or three major reasons why you stayed as long as you did. ” What kept them before is most likely to keep them on your team today.

Exercise: Ask each employee what keeps him or her at your company or your department. Make a card or note in your computer for every employee’s answer. Every month, review the cards and ask yourself what you’ve done for that employee that relates to his or her needs. This will serve as a written reminder of what is important to your employees and what you need to do to make sure they remain a part of your team and business.

One thing I will tell you is that you might be surprised at their answers. The most common top five are:

  • Career growth and learning new things
  • Exciting, challenging and meaningful work
  • Working with great people and being a part of a team.
  • Good boss or supervisor who listens to my ideas and allows me to be involved
  • Recognition for work well done

Stop guessing and thinking pay is the main reason that will keep your stars home and happy. If you need to, have someone else do the asking for you. It might be HR, another supervisor or even ME!  Whether it is in written form or my favorite approach, asking the question yourself, one-on-one, with your employees, just do it! This may all you need to do. It doesn’t matter so much where, when or how you ask– ASK! I promise you keeping your best employees is always worth it and Magical!

 

Treat Your Employees Like Customers

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It is a law of human nature that your employees will never treat customers any better than they are treated. I know we all have come across managers and business owners who disagree and say “They work here, they get paid and they’ll treat customers the way I tell them or they can find another job.” This certainly sounds good but how effective do you think that works?

However, successful leaders truly understand that their time spent on listening, educating, coaching, empowering, rewarding and engaging their employees is a better approach than just barking out orders all day. This will create an environment that allows their people to reach their full potential. Successful leaders also understand that implementing effective training strategies and recognition programs to celebrate successes and to simply thank people for a job well done is crucial to having happy and motivated employees.

If you have ever been to to Disney World I am sure you would have experienced a friendly, helpful and productive team atmosphere. The reason for this is that  Disney is an organization built upon the investment in people as much as anything else. Unlike many small businesses, they don’t overlook the need to invest in their most valuable asset, their employees. Ongoing training and recognition programs are part of the everyday life and role of a leader at Disney.

I  realize that running a profitable small business certainly has its challenges. While the costs of labor is usually one of the largest expenses for small businesses, spending time and money to train, motivate, encourage and recognize their staff doesn’t get the attention it should. Retaining employees is becoming more and more difficult. Good people, with the right attitude, who possess the right skills, knowledge, experience and customer relationships are not easily replaced. The non productive time and cost of turnover can be expensive for a small business. But what about the affects it will cause on the customer experience?

Happy employees, not products and services, hold the key to the future success of any small business. A recent pole of small businesses indicated that “Limited  recognition and praise and the lack of continuous training” were the top reasons why morale is low and people change jobs.  The investment in learning and recognition programs to train, acknowledge, recognize and congratulate employees and their effort is money well spent.

Consider this preventive maintenance. Like an oil change for an automobile, it is training, recognition and coaching which will keep any small business moving smoothly and avoid the expensive, disruptive breakdowns caused by employee turnover. The culture of making your employees happy  is just as important as making your customers happy and starts at the top.

Important Questions To Think About and Ask:

1. “Is employee morale where it should be?”

2, “If not, what can we do to make it better?

As the old saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If want to take that step towards creating better morale  and less turnover, you have to have the courage to take that step and ask your fellow leaders and front line staff together to say, “I need your help.” What are new fresh ideas to improve our training and morale in our business?”

“Treat Employees Like They Make

a Difference and They Will!”

Don’t underestimate what a positive affect that might have on your business.  Employees will treat their customers the same way they get treated.  It may be the key role for the future success in your small business. If you can take that first step and begin to ask those two question, I promise, you will be on your way for creating a Disney-like culture that is Magical!

 

Name Tags Are Magical!

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Our name is the most important thing we own. Knowing someones name can automatically create a personal connection. However, I am noticing more and more businesses are doing away with employee name tags and replacing them with credit card like badges hanging from a lanyard. How can someone, fellow employee or customer make a personal connection if they can’t read or know your name?

All cast members (employees) are required to wear a name tag on their costumes (uniforms) or professional clothing at all times. Every name tag has the cast member’s first name imprinted in big bold letters. Why a first name? Disney believes it is important to establish a first name basis with others. They discovered that the use of Mr. Mrs. Miss, Dr. or others often create an invisible wall or barrier between you and the other person. Even the CEO of Disney is on a first name basis and wears a name tag.

disney-name-tag

Visible name tags can also serve another great purpose in your business. If you notice on the bottom of this Disney name tag (my original name tag I wore at Disney) you will see a city and state. This is my home town where I was from. Every cast member’s home town is identified on their name tag. It is there to create an instant connection with guests in the parks or resorts.

Guests will often notice the city and state and automatically make an inquiry and begin a conversation. It is a great way to make a connection with a guest. More importantly, it begins the start of a relationship which will create a memorable experience.  As soon as the guest asks about the cast member’s home town, the cast member will turn around and ask the guest their name and where they are from. It becomes an easy way to learn the guest’s name, connect and begin a memorable relationship.

Dale Carnegie, an expert in relationship building reminds us that; “Using and remembering a person’s name is to that person the sweetest  and most important sound in any language.”  You and your staff should be aware of the magic contained in a person’s name. Using a person’s name sets the individual apart and makes any person unique and special among all others. The information we share, service we provide or the request we make takes on a personalized importance when we approach the situation with the name of the person.

That’s how you can connect with co-workers, customers and clients. Connections create loyalty and loyalty is the glue to create positive relationships that will set you apart from others. It is an amazing way to make the experience memorable and definitely more Magical!

 

 

Making Service Recovery Magical!

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Murphy’s Law will remind us that if something possibly can go wrong it will. It is no different with businesses and organizations. Sometimes things go wrong in our businesses that are in our control and sometimes out of our control. While managing hotels at Disney, I realized that the sure volume of hosting thousands of guests a day made it inevitable that something was going to go wrong. The key was to always to do two things: 1. Make a list of all the possible things that could go wrong. 2. Come up with a proactive service recovery plan to make the guest experience a positive one under the circumstances.

Some businesses do the same. At a recent Hyatt Hotel stay, while speaking at a large conference, the fan motor of the AC unit in my room had gone bad and was making a loud noise. I made one phone call to the front desk clerk to let them know. I didn’t complain about anything and assumed they would contact the maintenance person to come take a look at it. The desk clerk immediately apologized and asked if it was Ok to assigned me a new room since I just checked in.  Shortly after settling in my new room,  I received a nice plate of chocolate strawberries and brownies. The front desk clerk and Hyatt automatically made the gesture when they moved me to my new room.

chocolate-strawberries

Most businesses will only reward customers who complain. The bigger the complaint the bigger the gesture. The goal is to have a service recovery program that automatically triggers a gesture when something happens we know might be frustrating or inconvenient to our customers whether they complain or not. Why wait till a customer complains before making a kind gesture or service recovery act.

Here are few tips:

1.  Have every member of a department or business make a list of frustrations and inconveniences that customers should not have to experience.

2.  Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How would you feel if you were frustrated or inconvenienced?

3.  Make a list of possible and appropriate service recovery gestures that can be implemented automatically whether a customer complains or not. Some do not need to cost you a lot of money or any money at all.

4.  Evaluate responses from your customers and make any necessary adjustments or improvements if needed.

Obviously, the goal of any business or organization is to reduce and eliminate any possible problems or inconveniences that may affect your customer’s experience. Having a plan just in case something goes wrong and taking a proactive approach and gesture before a customer makes a complaint is a great way to take care of your customers. Take the initiative to show them that you are truly sorry and that you care. Now that is Magical!