So, I'm on the way home from an amazing trip to the US and sitting in the BA Lounge having dinner, and I'm lucky enough to witness the wonder of customer service. This time, however, not just the the wonder of being on the receiving end of great service, but the wonder of delivering it.
Being the nosey so and so I am, I overheard a customer fondly thanking a very smiley lady for delivering great service, for taking care of him and for always smiling. He was telling her how kind and thoughtful she was and how, as a frequent flyer, he always notices her and how happy she seems. Suggesting she was a rare kind, he offered her his left over dollars. She reluctantly accepted, slightly overwhelmed, explaining 'it's rare to get tips in this job!'.
Observing the interaction, I was really taken back by how happy both server and customer were. Beaming from ear to ear the lady explained that despite being paid very little, she cherishes the opportunity to meet people, look after them and make their pre-flight experience a good one. She commented that making others feel happy makes her feel happy, and that's why she loves her job. She thanked the customer for making her day. The customer thanked her back with a warm handshake.
When the customer left, the lady cleared his table with a beaming smile and a visible spring in her step. Approaching our table, she oozed so much warmth and kindness, offering to top up our drinks, asking us how we were and clearing our plates. I had no choice - I had to compliment her and offer her my left over dollars too! She laughed that she felt like she'd won the lottery today! She floated around the lounge no doubt spreading more happiness to the other customers.
It sounds so basic playing this story back but it reminded me once again of the power and benefit of delivering great customer service and approaching work with a positive mindset. The benefit of finding purpose in your work and focusing on a positive reason why you love the work you do.
There's bucket loads of scientific research that highlights the physiological and psychological benefits of delivering great customer service and doing acts of kindness - the endorphin rushes and the self esteem boost to name only two. In a world full of so much anger and hatred, every act of kindness big or small is worth a million dollars (or even just a few left over dollars!). Service providers have the greatest opportunity to create happiness for themselves and those they serve. Yet so many service providers we meet don't realise it...
Which leads me to my 50million dollar question to all service providers and learning teams out there tasked with engaging and 'training' people how to provide great customer service.
How are you unlocking people's ability to make emotional connections with customers? To light up the room when they walk in? To broadcast happiness in a way that makes themselves and their customers feel happy, valued, capable and respected. To have a strong sense of purpose and feel proud and excited to have the opportunity to serve others?
Rather than trying to train people how to smile and how to say "hello", or worst still training service standards with no reference to behaviour, why not connect and reconnect people with the power of making positive emotional connections with others?.
We all know that customer service is a social process, it's about making emotional connections. It requires a level of emotional and social intelligence that comes naturally to some; and needs to be "unlocked" and developed in others.
The more positive, meaningful, genuine and thoughtful the interaction between server and customer, the stronger the connection will be. When it comes to providing service, the ability to create meaningful connections with customers is everything. Broadcasting happiness, being genuine and thoughtful are essential attributes for any successful service provider.
There are some amazing examples and stories of people going above and beyond to deliver genuinely thoughtful service. These stories all end with happy, loyal customers and the ripple effect is the most powerful word of mouth advertising in the world! These positive stories can be used during training to encourage and inspiring positive behaviour and actions.
There are so many opportunities to revolutionise the training you offer to make it more inspiring, practical and relevant for your people. Rather than simply sharing knowledge and information, engaging and drawing out the best of your people, enabling them to feel empowered to go out and wow their customers.
“Employee training is not about sharing knowledge and developing skills – it is about inspiring action. And inspired actions, of all sizes, at all levels and across all areas of the business is what drives continuous, profitable growth.” - Jack Welch, Former CEO of GE & Author
To Silva, the happy server - thanks for being a wonderful, happy soul, for lighting up the room (the BA lounge in JFK) and making our BA supper experience even more memorable :-)
The Happy Learning Co. offers a unique approach to all it's learning and engagement solutions - everything we do is carefully aligned to some of the top drivers of happiness at work and fuelled with positive psychology. Our goal is help businesses around the world create places to work where people and their customers can experience happiness.
Our philosophy is to never leave anyone without making them feel better or happier. By doing so, we aspire to help create more happiness in this mad world we live in!
Don't just look for happiness, create it!