Monogram Customer Service with Your Signature Passion
His surgery went longer than anyone expected. I ended up sleeping in the hospital waiting room all night. My friend was understandably grouchy once he was returned to his hospital room. His irritability, however, paled in comparison to that of the night nurse who stormed into his room and slammed his chart down on the bed stand. I could tell we were headed for a customer service disaster.
“Is he going to be wanting breakfast?” she barked. I almost mocked her caustic attitude by standing at attention and saluting, but not wanting my response to impact his care, I quietly indicated I was not sure but would ask him when he awoke. She continued her diatribe. “Well, he’d better hurry it up. I am done with my shift in fifteen minutes and he might not be so lucky with the day nurse who will be coming on.”
Visions of ogres and trolls danced in my head as I shuddered to think what monster disguised as a day nurse might be following this Nurse Ratched. The bad boy in me came out of hiding as I asked her if she had endured a particularly rough night. With a look that would frighten Superman, she said: “Honey, they’re all rough. I see people at their worst, the docs are all cranky, the staff is terrible, and I have to work all night.”
With that, she thundered out of my friend’s room. I left the hospital wondering what kind of miracle it would take to transform a nurse, who was obviously only interested in getting on the other side of the time clock, into a nice person.
Customer Service, From Hateful to Happy
I called my wife from the hospital and suggested we rendezvous at an all-night diner for breakfast on my way home. Walking in the front door we were welcomed by four people, each doing their specific job. There was no need for a greeter; everyone had proudly won that role. An upbeat waitress took our drink order as we studied the colorful menu.
When my wife indicated to me that she did not see the precise entrée she was hoping for, a BLT on whole wheat with a yolk-less fried egg on top, the waitress at the next table remarked, “Ma’am, we can create whatever you can imagine!” After we placed our “let’s break all the rules” breakfast order, two different waitresses checked to make sure all was well. It was as if we were the responsibility of every employee in the restaurant.
Finishing our breakfast, I stepped up to the cash register to pay and instantly heard, “I got it!” as a waitress completely unrelated to our table rushed to ring up our order. As we made our way to the front door, I asked one of the employees if she had just started work. “Oh, no sir,” she responded with a smile, “We have all been here all night. In fact, Susie over there (Ms. BLT) has been here about 12 hours.”
Recalling my cross nurse encounter an hour earlier, I asked, “How are you all so upbeat? Aren’t you tired?” She smiled, “Of course we are. but, we all love our customers so much we decided it was not fair to them for us to ‘do tired.’ I will ‘do tired’ when I get home, but not here. It would spoil this happy place and you wouldn’t want to come back.” Passionate connections, like we saw at that diner, provoke passionate responses.
Order Neapolitan, Not Vanilla
Most customer service relationships do not end with a storm of sound and fury. Most do not end in a fit of dissonance or a caustic conflict. Instead, most companies “vanilla” customer service to death. It is death by indifference, monotony, and negligence. When someone asked my wife the secret of our 50-year marriage, she quickly said, “We got married, but we never quit dating.” Customer relationships are like that as well. They thrive on a rich flavor of engagement, like Neapolitan or spumoni, not plain vanilla.
People do not brag about their rational marriage, their reasonable hobby, or their sensible vacation. You rarely exhibit “in control” behavior when your daughter scores a goal or your son hits a home run. Exhortations of ecstasy are never restrained on the fishing bank when the cork suddenly disappears.
Somehow, all that spirit is an unwelcome distraction at work. Yet, customers rave, comment, and tweet about enthusiastic customer service with unbridled emotion. German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel wrote: “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”
Dissect the word “passion” and you actually get three words, pass-I-on. It is passing on the best of who you are to someone else. The nurse in the hospital was angry because someone was not making her happy. The diner’s staff created their own happiness by making a difference in the welfare of everyone who crossed their threshold. It was service unleashed!
Every person or organization on the planet has a spirit laser. It is the amount of joy-filled light, energy, and attentiveness one concentrates on others. People or organizations with spirit lasers that register a high candlepower have a huge emotional connection with the recipients of that light. So, if the candlepower of the customer experience you help to create were filtered through a prism, like the colors of the rainbow, what might it contain?
Would it contain eye hugs, powerful looks of attentiveness and affirmation? Would they imprint your “John Hancock” on your customer’s memory?