I just love sharing great customer service experiences. Here’s one that has stuck with me.
I was staying at a Radisson Hotel. Overall, the hotel facilities were lovely. However, it was the people who made me pay attention, and one person in particular. The employees were Midwestern friendly. Whenever I was in the elevator with a hotel employee, he or she always held the door open for me, and insisted that I exit first. A small, polite gesture. I took note of how accommodating and kind the employees were…from the bellman to the front desk clerk to the young lady who delivered my room service coffee. Very nice.
I requested a ride to the airport when I was checking out. A valet appeared and loaded my suitcases into the hotel van. He introduced himself as Michael, and off we went. I noticed a little pin on Michael’s jacket. It said, in script, “Yes, I Can.” I asked him about it.
His chest swelled as he answered, “This pin means that I can handle any problem concerning any guest at our hotel. I can do whatever it takes to solve their problem. So, no matter what happens, I can make it all better.”
“That’s pretty cool,” I replied. “Does everyone at your hotel have that degree of authority and responsibility?”
“No, you have to go through the ‘Yes, I Can’ class,” he explained. “It’s a three-day course they put on at the hotel. We practiced ways to solve problems, and what we would do to help guests in different situations. It was actually a lot of fun.”
“Suppose I was unhappy with my room?” I prompted.
“I’d switch rooms for you, if that would help. I could even give you a full refund on your room, if it that’s what it would take to make you feel better,” he responded without missing a beat.
“Very good! Michael, tell me about a recent experience you’ve had putting your ‘Yes, I Can’ abilities to the test,” I asked.
“I haven’t had the opportunity, yet,” Michael said simply. “I just graduated from the course last week. We do a good job around here, so there aren’t many complaints. But if something comes up, I can take care of it. Yes, I can!”
I was struck by his enthusiasm. I told him that he appeared to be pretty pleased with the Radisson.
“I really like it here. I try to do a good job.” Then, he added proudly, “Last month, I was the Employee of the Month. That means I am in the running for Employee of the Year. If I win, I’ll take my son with me on a cruise.” He had it all worked out already.
We arrived at the airport, and Michael hoisted my bags over to the sky cap. We shook hands and parted ways. I was left considering how easy it really is to make people feel good about their jobs: show them what to do, how to do it and why. Then, let them do it.
A Higher Training Purpose
You’ve heard the objection, “What if I train my employees, and they leave?” The classic comeback is, “What if you don’t train them…and they stay?” Never forget that the point of training is to help someone do a specific job better, measurably better. Certainly some training is necessary to do any job. Technical training, sales training and customer service training should be part of your overall employee development package.
Why not take a broader, higher view of your role as trainer? Become obsessed with the personal development of the people who work for you. Become a developer of people. In addition to basic skills training, consider adding these courses to your company’s class list:
- “Yes I Can” Customer Service – Like Michael described. I wonder if Morton’s Steakhouse does something like this. My friend, marketing guru Peter Shankman, wrote a blog about his terrific customer service experience. Check it out!
- Get-Out-Of-Debt 101 – Offer a class in basic money management. Use the classic The Richest Man in Babylon for the textbook. Once a week, get together for a book group. Assign a chapter or a few pages, and then discuss the lessons in class.
- First Aid and CPR – The American Red Cross is a good place to start. Find out what it takes to put on a basic emergency response class at your shop. Invite employees and their families to participate. Have them bring the “Bloodmobile” and invite those interested to donate blood.
- Language Classes – Our country is not without its faults, but those who move here from terribly violent and oppressive countries truly appreciate the opportunities it provides. Open your workplace to culturally diverse employees. Teach English, and learn the other languages that your employees bring to your company.
Think your shop is too small to offer these courses? Keep it simple. Commit to your own learning, and share your developing knowledge with others at your company. I know from experience that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Pay your employees to attend optional classes. However, don’t force them to go. Make minimum levels of performance and production mandatory, but don’t make the training mandatory. Good people want to improve.
Consider Michael. Whatever happened in that classroom over the course of three days had a profound impact on him. He emerged convinced that he could turn dissatisfied customers into happy guests. And he felt the unconditional support of his supervisors. Michael grew as a person as a result of that training, and that environment. Perhaps not every “Yes, I Can” graduate is so positively impacted. That’s the breaks. But, there are Michaels in this world, thank goodness.
Someday, for whatever reason, Michael might leave the Radisson. But he will take those skills with him. Wherever he goes, he will make the world a brighter, better place. The Radisson can take a little bit of credit for that. Michael, of course, can take the lion’s share. A side benefit: If you commit to personal development this way, well, your good employees may be less likely to leave.
Can you make the commitment to be a developer of people? Of course. Say it with me, “Yes, I CAN!”