It’s a tongue-in-cheek question & answer that you’ve no doubt heard before:
“How do you know when you’ve created a Wow! experience?”
“When your customer says “Wow!”
Perfect in its simplicity, the witticism stops short of implying a more in-depth, complex perspective:
Memorable moments generate from a shared emotional experience, one in which expectations have been expressed or identified, and reflect corresponding efforts to meet or exceed those expectations.
Those experiences have the potential to be very positive, i.e., “Wow! It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of!”
Or something very different, such as “Wow! I can’t believe how incredibly insensitive you are!”
Either way, you’re part of that memory.
When it comes to the Moment of Truth, which side of Wow! will you be remembered for?
Dealing With Diet Dr. Pepper
The review posted on social media told a very familiar story.
A guest arrived late to the hotel. When he asked where he could find a soda and some snacks, he was informed that the sundry shop had closed for the evening and directed to go across the street to the hotel’s sister property.
His post chronicled the response received when he asked for access to the Executive Lounge: “No, it’s closed.”
Furious at this point, the guest voiced his frustration and discontent both in-person and virtually to anyone and everyone who would listen.
Funny . . . it’s with listening where most of our troubles begin.
When I examined the issue with those involved, they responded almost in unison, “No, that’s not what we said.”
Problem is, that’s what the guest heard.
Caution: Leading With Your Left
Customer service is a very right brain, emotionally charged endeavor. We’re dealing with primal forces of nature; deep seeded wants and desires that sometimes surface as a life-threatening need for a Diet Dr. Pepper.
This urgency often reflects a person’s preference for seeking comfort or balance within their environment, rather than a potential encounter with their ultimate demise.
Where service efforts go astray is in our preference for managing a business. Performance standards, hours of operation, and fiscal accountability are all left-brain activities that factor into a profitable bottom line.
Collectively, these activities form practices that promote consistency, a trait often valued across groups of habit-seeking humans.
What is missing from these practical applications is the people-centric service philosophies they are designed to support. If emphasized as an overarching key to success, practicality will remain “what we repeatedly do” as the subtle default approach in a given situation.
In our guest’s quest for Diet Dr. Pepper, I am confident the response began with stating that the sundry shop was closed. That represented both the cold, harsh reality of the moment and an immediate obstacle to meeting the guest’s expectations.
When access was offered to the Executive Lounge, it was too late. The guest had stopped listening at “No.”
Even if the guest didn’t know the sundry shop was closed, the guest service agent did. So why go there?
Instead, lead with something a little more right brain such as:
“It would be my pleasure to arrange for two Diet Dr. Peppers and two glasses of ice to be delivered to your room, Mr. ReasonforBeing. May I also send along an assortment of snacks?”
This response bypasses the obstacle and focuses on the guest’s desire for a specific item. You have safely navigated to the Right Side of Wow!
Being made aware that the sundry shop was closed, and that he couldn’t purchase the items himself, is now not seen as a hindrance, simply an option not available at the moment.
Role Play Your Way To Right Side Moments
The Left Brain and its straight line, proactive-reactivity functionality poses a continuous threat to those seeking to remain on the Right Side of Wow!
There is safety and comfort in established responses such as “I apologize, that item is not on the menu”, “Your preferred room type is not available”, or the classic “We have a policy that prohibits . . .”
They all say no, for mostly pragmatic reasons. But Right Side Moments follow a curve of creativity and intuition, relying on an internal drive that says “Yes”, then figures out a way to get there.
Curving that straight line to feature more of a proactive-responsive approach requires changing perspective: “What can I do to meet or exceed expectations?” has to supersede the more surface related “What cannot be done is beyond our ability to provide.”
The most effective way to change perspective and establish new Right Side habits is to follow the 3P Protocol established within a Second Nature Mentality:
Building Proficiency is an organic process. Repeatedly review standards and performance thresholds with your team, along with the time, tools, and techniques available to create engaging Right Side Moments.
Incorporate Aggressive Joint Accountability from Day One. There may be a grand total of three people on the planet who would not want to improve proficiency in their jobs. Trust that your team will embrace a structured approach, apply their intuition accordingly, and see the value in holding each other accountable to do the same.
Focusing on creative solutions must become a habit from the beginning, or your team will never perform to its true potential.
Disciplined behavior enhanced through repetition and reinforced through great coaching.
A similar repetitive approach will improve Cognitive Memory, taking performance beyond awareness and driving it into the subconscious where we need it to be. Again, be maniacal about proper technique, execution, and the opportunities to do more.
Then prop open the door to ingenuity and creative thought. Embrace taking an experience to the next level as a perpetual activity in every service opportunity.
Perfecting skills through repetition builds instinct -we’re looking for Instinct 2.0, something so second nature that you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
Improvisation becomes a product of intense rehearsal and developmental critique.
Once you have perfected performance, take it into the real world where things are seldom perfect. Factor some anxiety into the repetition – better to deal with it in practice, where you are free to cogitate and proactively critique.
I find role play activities super relevant and valuable.
Remember to simplify your perspective: You are not telling your teams how to behave. You are building performance behaviors. Big difference.
A Thirst For Excellence
I suppose the ultimate ‘P’ in our equation is Perspective, the ability to visualize another’s thoughts and feelings and equate them to our own.
It’s what was absent in our Diet Dr. Pepper episode and is what routinely determines whether a Wow! Moment is remembered for all the right reasons, or wrong.
Executing service excellence begins with selecting the right talent, those with an instinctive ability to seek a “Yes” solution. Dedicate role play activities that incorporate the 3Ps to elevate your service delivery beyond a Left Side, pragmatic perspective.
Loyalty and engagement, true measures of successful service excellence, will be waiting for you at the nexus of inherent desire and natural ability . . . on the Right Side of Wow!
This is Tall Tim and I am At Your Service!