“Hold on Tight” Customer Service

Pay Attention!

You can learn anything, anywhere, anytime, but you have to be paying attention.  Case in point.

I was on a whirlwind trip this last week and found myself at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with my team. 

We had just dropped off the rental car and caught a rental car bus over to the terminal.  Once we were inside the terminal, I got that sinking feeling in my stomach when I realized that I didn’t have my backpack with me, which also meant that I didn’t have my wallet, ID, etc.  It was in the bus!  I left my carry-on bag with one of my peers and took off running back to the parking area to see if the bus was still there.

It was.  I ran across the street and jumped on the empty bus and looked around frantically.  No backpack.  I ran to the front of the bus only to realize it was a different bus driver.  Which meant – it was a different bus.

Clearly seeing that I was only slightly panicked, he asked me how he could help.  I quickly explained that my backpack was on board the bus that was just here before him.  He asked me if I had told anyone.  I replied, “I’m telling you.” Again, slightly panicked.

Without batting an eye, he said, “Hold on tight.  I think I can catch him.”  And with that, he shut the doors, put it in drive and took off. I stood behind him and grabbed the overhead bar for support.  For a brief moment, it reminded me of something out of a movie and expected dramatic theme music to start playing.  In case you’re wondering – we were the only ones on the bus.

As we sped past the departure drop off area, he grabbed the mic to his radio and started calling for his dispatch and the other bus.  While dispatch replied, the other bus didn’t answer.  Dispatch then began calling for the other bus, but still no reply.

Then we came to a fork in the road.  He asked me a quick question about whether or not there were passengers for other terminals on our bus.  My “I don’t know” response didn’t help.  But that was okay, because he replied, “Okay…then if I were him, I’d go this way.”  And he jerked the bus to the right.  Up and around the terminal we went.

As we leveled out in the arrival area, we approached a line of buses.  He said, “I believe this is your bus.” and pointed to the one directly in front.  As I jumped off his bus, he said, “I’ll wait here.”  I shouted my thanks as I ran to the bus in front.

I leaped on to the bus in front to discover my backpack sitting there all by its lonesome.  I startled my old driver as I let out a triumphant “Yes!”  He asked me if he could help me.  I told him that I had left my backpack, but everything was okay now.  I’m sure I left him a little baffled as to what had just happened and how I got there.

I climbed off the bus and held up my bag to the awesome driver to show success.  He gave me a smile, a wave, and then drove off.  I waved my thanks to him.

As I walked back to my party, I couldn’t help but think how great of customer service this driver displayed.  He didn’t have to help me.  I’m sure it wasn’t in his job description.  But he did it nonetheless.

Besides not leaving my bag on the rental car bus, here are 3 things I learned that day about exceeding expectations with a “hold on tight” level of customer service.

  1. 1.      Take Immediate Action – when a customer presents you with a crisis or problem they expect you to deal with it – don’t wait You can be anyone’s superhero.  Don’t pass the problem off to someone else.  Take ownership.  You’re action shows them that you are committed to solving their issue.  It shows that you are committed to them
  2. 2.      Include Others – if you don’t know how to solve a customer’s problem or need help – get it Use the resources available to you to find the right people or incorporate others in to the solution.  Leverage them to help. 
  3. 3.      See It Through – Once on the path to solving an issue – see it through to the end.  Like the driver said to me when he found my bus, “I’ll wait here”.   He did this to make sure that what he did solved my problem.  If it hadn’t, I imagine we would have been off on another adventure.  Even if you do pass it to someone else – follow up.

Exceeding a customer’s expectations doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes action.  Take every opportunity to go above and beyond!  There were so many examples of this in my story.  From the initial “hold on tight” all the way through to the “I’ll wait here”. 

I don’t know the name of my driver, but I’ll always remember the impact he made on me by providing awesome customer service!  And this is what we should want for our customers – to remember us and our company this way.

Be known for providing awesome customer service.  And as leaders, be known for teaching awesome customer service!

What “hold on tight” customer service have you provided lately?

Reach Out!

I was able to witness something awesome recently.  At the Walmart Shareholders Meeting this year, there was a brief moment that they were celebrating a young man named Tim Kerfoot from Canada that was named the International Associate of the Year.  Tim works at a distribution center.  Tim is also wheel chair bound.

Why was he the International Associate of the Year?  Well, when you listen to him (video below), it will take you about half a second to realize that this guy radiates positive energy and motivates others to be excellent.

Here is a man that has faced a huge adversity, could easily give up, or be ticked off at the world because of his lot in life, but you would never know it.  This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have troubles or struggles, it just means that he chooses not to let them dictate his attitude.  – which is absolutely awesome.

In fact, while they were recognizing him he said something that I thought was incredibly profound.  He said, “In the midst of a challenge, find people around you that can support you through it.  And then…..find people around you that you can support.

Think about that for a moment.  

What a great leadership lesson!

In the first half his statement, he basically says, when you need help – seek out those that can help you.  Ask for it.  Don’t go it alone.  Rely on others.  Get support.  Reach out!

This is such a fail point for so many leaders.  Often we think that we need to define ‘being strong’ as ‘doing it ourselves’ and ‘not showing weakness’.  There is nothing further from the truth!  We – you and Ineed other people.  That’s how we’re wired as human beings.  There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it may show greater leadership maturity if you do.   And quite frankly, we need other people to offset our own flaws, lift us up when we’re down, and strengthen us when we’re weak.  I’m sure that you’ve heard the old adage that a single stick is easily broken, but a bundle of sticks cannot be broken.   We need each other in order to succeed.

But, the coolest thing about what Tim said followed next.

“…then….find people around you that you can support.”  Wow!  This is POWERFUL! This simple statement brings the first half full circle.  It’s not just about asking for help when WE need it.  It’s about helping others when THEY need it.  This is very symbiotic and brings the whole concept of reaching out full circle.  When I hear this I picture someone reaching down in to the pit to help pull us out, but just as we’re about to be pulled out, we reach back and extend our hand to someone else.

Something important to point out here is that he used the word “FIND”.  This is an action word that we should pay close attention to.  When it comes to helping others, we shouldn’t wait for them to come to us.  We should FIND PEOPLE AROUND US THAT WE CAN SUPPORT.  Good leader’s don’t sit back and wait.  They take action to proactively and positively impact the lives of others.  This requires us to sharpen our skills of discernment and be aware and sensitive to what is happening around us.

REACH OUT – when you need help.

AND

REACH OUT – to help others.

As leaders, I challenge you to do both!  Both are healthy.  And if you are the kind of person that reaches out to help others more often than you ask for help, I guarantee you that someone will always be there for you when you need it.

Tim also made another neat statement.  He said, “Life is better with a team, with family and with friends.”  I couldn’t agree more.

With an outlook on life like this, it’s no wonder that Tim Kerfoot from DC 3059 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada was Walmart’s International Associate of the Year.  Way to go Tim!

I’ve attached Tim’s acceptance video below.

Who needs you to reach out to them today?

A Conscious Legacy

Last night, I was doing some blog surfing when I came across a blog by a gentleman named Rick Forbus.  In one of his posts, he was recanting the recent loss of his father and the importance of the legacy that he left.

Rick made a great statement in his post, “Leaders are conscious of their legacy.

As the night went on, my mind kept drifting back to this statement.

I think there is real truth and power in this statement.  I have one small tweak though  – “Good leaders are conscious of their legacy.”

And not only are they conscious, but they are also deliberate, passionate, and diligent when it comes to the legacy that they are creating.

They realize that they have the power to build up, grow, nurture, develop, encourage and inspire others; just as much as they have the power to do the opposite.  The question though is, “What will they choose to do with their time?”

One of my favorite leadership quotes is from baseball hero Jackie Robinson who said, A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” 

As stated by Al Duncan, what Jackie meant was “Do something to breakdown a barrier or carve out a path for someone else, not once, but as often as you can.”

Leadership is not about one time; it’s about as many times as possible.

There are many types of legacies that leaders can leave, but what I want to focus on here are four words for those of you aspiring to be good (or even great) leaders.  In thinking about the legacy you will leave, be:

  • Conscious.  Be aware of what you are doing.  Know what your words, body language, and actions really say.  Know how they impact others.  Be self-aware of the message you send – always.  Leaders are always “on”.
  • Deliberate.  Be intentional about growing and developing others.  Seek out opportunities to nurture others – don’t be a passive bystander.   The greatest legacy you will leave behind is that in which you have invested in others.   Purposefully and actively think through how those within your sphere of influence will best be encouraged – and then act on it.
  • Passionate.  Be fanatical in your advocacy and support of other people.  Clear their path, give them the tools, and then get out of the way – and not just once – do it over and over again.  When they don’t think they can do it, lend them your energy and inspire them to new heights.
  • Diligent.   Be tenacious.  Developing others is hard work. It may take you many attempts with some people, but I promise you that the reward of seeing them blossom is absolutely worth it.

Leaving a legacy is not something that happens after you’ve left this earth.  Leaving a legacy is about now.  It’s about the investments that you made yesterday, today, and the one’s you’ll make tomorrow.

So, be conscious – be deliberate – be passionate – and be diligent in the legacy that you are creating in others.

What are you doing about your legacy today?

Spread a Little Joy

It has been said that true happiness can only be attained by first helping others find peace. With a seemingly endless parade of problems coming at us from all sides, it can be easy to focus on our own issues and not on others.  The fact is though; we live in an entwined society and even something as simple as moods are contagious and interconnected.  By simply helping others find happiness we may find that we are not only able to improve the lives of others, but that we find our own joy in helping others that lifts our mood as well.

As leaders, it is important to spread joy.  It’s a great exercise in servant leadership.  People are looking to you for inspiration.  Often times we may not be able to solve others’ personal problems, but we can definitely help improve the situation, at least for the moment.  I believe that most people genuinely want to be happy.  And happy people are both productive and enjoyable to be around, which makes a better workplace.  

So, as a leader, are you spreading joy?

Here are five simple ways that you can spread joy in the workplace.

  1. Go out of your way to spontaneously do something nice for someone.  Hold the door or elevator for someone.  When you see someone carrying a heavy load, help them.  Help someone clean up after a meeting.  Randomly pay for someone’s lunch at the checkout or pick up their lunch dishes for them.
  2. Leave a note.  Express your thanks or write something inspiring on a sticky note, thank you note, sheet of copy paper, or white board. A hand written note means much more than an email, text, or IM (especially today).  I have one former direct report that also leaves a card for a free ice cream cone in her notes.  Yum!
  3. Purposefully praise someone in front of others.  Go out of your way to say something nice to someone in front of their peers, colleagues, direct reports, boss, or even better…their family.  When you see someone with their spouse or kids, say something great about them.  For example, “You know your mom is awesome, right!?”  “Your husband is one outstanding guy!”
  4. Acknowledge someone.  Say hello.  Wave.  Slap a high five.  Shake a hand.  Give that “what’s up” head nod.  Wink.  Do whatever you do (as long as it isn’t creepy), but acknowledge others.  Most people want to be acknowledged in a positive manner.
  5. Smile!  Smiles are contagious!  Give a cheesy grin.  Laugh.  Giggle.  Chuckle.  Smile….and others will smile with you.

THE CHALLENGE:  If you are new to this and this isn’t your normal operating mode, I challenge you to do one of the above deliberately at least twice a day.  You can spread it out; once in the morning and once in the afternoon to start.  The fact is though; the more you do it, the more it becomes natural, and the more it becomes natural, the more people you positively effect in the course of your day.

So, are you up to the challenge?  What else can you do to spread joy in the workplace?

Enjoy!

~Jason

What Kind of Impact do You Create?

Today on the way in to work, I was walking along the sidewalk and as someone was approaching I looked them in the eye and said, “Good Morning”.

The person never looked at me and when I spoke, slightly turned their head up and away, almost in a snobbish fashion.  I was a little surprised and my first thought was, “Wow.  It just got colder outside.”  My second thought was, “Wow.  I hope that wasn’t someone that works here”.

Who knows what was on that person’s mind.  Who knows if they were even cognizant of what they did.  All I know is that I was slightly taken aback as I thought, “How rude”.  Never having met this person before, this is now my first impression of them.

At Walmart/Sam’s Club we practice the 10 foot rule.  This is part of our culture. It is part of who we are.

Acknowledging someone else’s presence costs you nothing, but can create a great positive impact.

NOT acknowledging someone costs you nothing, but can create a GREATER negative impact.

So my questions for you are; What kind of impact do you create? What kind of impression do you leave with people as you pass by them?

Enjoy!

~Jason

Are You Someone’s Hero?

Today, I want to talk about being someone’s hero.

Are you someone’s hero? What have you done to deserve such admiration?  Did you save their life?  Did you do something CNN or Fox News worthy?  Is that what it takes to be someone’s hero?

Watch this short video from TED where Mark Bezos talks about being a hero and life lessons from a volunteer firefighter.

 

Now that you’ve watched the video.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does what I do matter?
  • How do the actions I take or words that I speak matter in the lives of others?
  • Am I creating positive impact?
  • Do I positively affect someone’s life every day?  If not, what am I waiting for?

If you want to be a great leader, then make a difference every day through the small things that few would notice.  The small things matter.

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