Service Feistiness

Chip Bell

A woman had a parakeet named Pretty Boy and taught it to sing songs. One day, she decided to vacuum out the cage. But when the phone rang, Pretty Boy ended up in the bag! Panicked, she tore open the bag. She found the bird alive but covered with dust, dirt, and soot. She rushed it to the bathtub and turned both faucets wide open, almost drowning Pretty Boy! She then used the hair dryer to blow dry the drenched bird!

Now, Pretty Boy doesn't sing anymore - he just sits and stares!

We live in times of turbulence and anxiety. Many employees hired to "sing songs" are daily traumatized by cutbacks, layoffs, and just plain old scary uncertainty. Some end up like Preey Boy - sitting and staring.

The tough get going when times get tough because they are feisty - a never-say-die resilience; a manifestation of spirit, passion and determination; the source of initiative, drive and growth. It turns indifference service people into joy carriers. It puts a smile on your face and a skip in your step. It makes you boldly stand up, not hunker down.

What Customers Need
Customers have zero patience for traumatized employees. They want increasing value for their diminishing dollar. They expace motivation, not movement, and require responsibility and interest, not resistance and indifference.

1. Customers need "singers" (feisty people who are joyful). You can "feel " "singers" emotionally long before they shake your hand. Their enthusiasm is contagious; their style and spirit meet you before they do. You notice their glowing Steinway smile - like they just encountered a long-lost friend. You then notice their gait - a person extremely eager to connect and raring to serve. You witness how their gusto infects everyone within earshot with the grins.

Singers make customers feel confident about the parts of the service encounter they don't understand. We might not understand the complexity of our surgery, but we are experts at judging the doctor's bedside manner.

2. Customers need "closers" (feisty people who get things done). Customers often see service people focusing on doing their task without regard to the customer's objective. Feisty people care about outcomes, not check-lists. Activity is a means to an end. Procedures are guidelines for accomplishment - not the goal of their toil. Organizations in limbo cause service people to stall, pass the buck, or rely on "Rules R' Us" behavior - taking no risks and exercising no iniative.

3. Customers need "investors" (feisty people who make deposits in others' emotional banks). They give for the pleasure of giving, not with the expectation of some return. With each investment, they seed confidence and hope. They make customers feel a sense worth. "Investors" go the extra mile at times customers expect them to skimp. They derive their optimism from a belief they are pilots of their destiny - not passengers on someone else's ride. There is nothing counterfeit about their cheerfulness or their encouragement. Authenticity invites customer potency. Customers don't need someone to cheerfully make them feel better about being weak; they need someone who can sincerely help them feel strong.

Customers long for feisty people who are committed to stop "sitting and staring" and start standing and caring.

Chip Bell and John Patterson, co-authors of Customer Loyalty Guaranteed
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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