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brand experience

  • The Magic of Customer Service

    It was a bright and sunny day in June. I drove into the parking lot of the dealership with my music blaring, looking forward to standing after my two-hour drive. The first thing I do when I arrive at a client’s office is a walk around.

    The only way I can ensure that the teams I’m working with and myself are driving in the same direction is to make these rounds, ask my questions and hear the responses. This exercise is something I do during every visit and with every person!

    We had been on our customer experience journey together for just a little over three months, and so far, we had already had some small victories along the way with much work.

    I will never forget this particular moment. When I started with the dealership, the team was dysfunctional, the leadership had no accountability, and the customers were suffering from it.

    On this day, I started conducting my usual walkabout to greet every employee of the dealership.

    In our short time together, I could see and feel the transformation; there was one conversation that day that solidified the gut feeling I had. I walked into the Business Development Office with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. The ladies in the office swung around and met my smile with theirs. We spent a few minutes catching up and like I always did, I asked the question,

    “tell me the good, bad, and the ugly. What is working, and what are our opportunities?”

    These conversations always reveal the good, bad, and ugly, usually followed by a rant about who is not pulling their weight. (PS, this is normal until the team starts driving in the same direction) This beautiful afternoon was different. I was knocked back by the response I received.

    One of the ladies looked at me with her bright smiling eyes and said, “Katie, I am starting to see change and progress. We’ve never had this happen in our history. Our team is starting to work together, and the customers are sharing the same feeling. It’s like you have a magic wand that you have waved over the dealership.”

    As I mentioned, I was knocked back with this response. I was overjoyed and thrilled to see the progress take shape. Inside I was bursting with excitement (if it were professional to do so, I would have done a happy dance!). I was quiet for a moment then responded, ” I don’t hold a magic wand, you and the team have always had the magic within each of you. We just needed to uncover it and free it. YOU are the magic you feel.”

    That’s the thing; Customer Service is not magic; it is a decision to make magic happen for your team and your customers.

    I was doing my regular CX article reading this morning and happen to stumble upon the fact that it is Customer Service Week 2019 this week; the theme is “The Magic of Service.” I am ashamed to admit that I don’t pay attention to CX week and when it is each year. I believe that there should be a heightened awareness of customer service in organizations EVERY DAY.

    However, the theme this year piqued my interest. “The Magic of Service” reminded me of this story, and I thought it was worth sharing with you.

    While experiences can feel magical to customers when done right, magic is not something that happens sometimes. The magic of service is within everyone, every organization, and every employee if you’re willing to see it and cultivate it.

    If you are going to focus on anything during ‘Customer Service Week 2019’; choose to focus on uncovering the magic that already exists and nurture it.

    Walk into your organization today with a skip in your step and a smile on your face. Show your team what magic looks like and foster it within them.

  • My Experience of Restaurants in Europe, Check Please!

    If you follow me on any of my social platforms you would have seen not too long ago I took a trip over to Europe for a little family time and research intermixed.

    I visited some of the best hotels and restaurants, Italy and Croatia had to offer. I had a goal in mind when making these visits,  and that was to observe the customer interaction of those around myself and my family. Then document our experiences.

    While Europeans are warm and inviting, they don’t like tourists (or they don’t have any customer experience training). I must admit that I am generalizing right now. However, the majority of my experiences speak to the fact that the servers at restaurants either lost their smile on their way to work or forgot how to smile all together!

    Other than the lack of smiles being a trend that I saw and experienced for myself, there was another trend that (at home) I hadn’t paid much attention to; who is given the check at the end of the meal when a male and female are dining together?

    Let me explain this further.

    The first few restaurants we visited, I noticed that our server would give my husband the check. He then passed it to me, and I then paid for it. But, I was not putting any thought into it.

    Until, one evening our family was walking down the picturesque alleyways of Venice searching for the right restaurant that would serve the best pizza, carbonara, and rose with an outside table for people watching.

    My kids hopped from restaurant to restaurant yelling “this one?!” of course one of them would disagree, and onto the next, we would go. Finally, we landed in a restaurant that suited everyone’s particularities, and we sat down. Our menus were passed out in the typical old fashioned ‘kids and ladies first’ fashion (Ela, Riley, Noah, me, then Marcel).

    Our order was taken in the same way; the waiter was looking to Marcel for the decisions in what wine we were going to order and confirmation that the order was correct. With all the logistics out of the way, we patiently waited for our food. Let me tell you that the food was fabulous! I mean, it’s Italy! How could it be anything but fabulous?

    The service, again, was decent (still no smiles), but what came next was my ah-ha moment!

    My husband and I were seated at each end of the table and the kids were between us (easier to control them this way!) As the waiter approached with the check I put my hand out, he looked at me, and continued to hand the check to my husband. At that moment, ALL check giving moments came flooding back. Without fail, every check drop has been directed at my husband. Now, I was on a mission!

    I had to find out why the waiters feel they must give the check to the man at the table, assuming the woman wouldn’t be paying.

    I talked my husband’s ear off the rest of the trip and at every restaurant going forward. I watched, each time, to see who the check would be dropped with. Without fail, each time, it was given to my husband. As I was on a mission, I started asked the waiter at each restaurant,

    “Why do you choose to give the man the check over the woman?”

    Some responses I got:

    “That’s the way it is; the man should pay.”
    “The man usually has the credit card.”
    “I assume women don’t pay for the meal.”
    “That’s the way I have been taught.”

    I must say I am ALWAYS the one who pays for dinner, and I genuinely believe it is not cool for anyone to assume that just because a man and a woman are dining together that it is the man’s responsibility to pay OR that the woman is not capable of treating her dinner partner. If it were two ladies or two gents dining the waiter would ask how the check will be settled (split, Dutch, one bill?). So, why is this not done when a man and a woman are dining together?

    This is another small example of the many ways that a woman’s influence gets overlooked. If she has a say in the restaurant, why wouldn’t she have the ability to pay for the meal or at least be treated like an equal?

    I challenge you.

    The next time you are out for dinner with the opposite sex, take notice who the check is automatically given to. If I were a betting woman, and after the experiences I have had, I would say, the man will be given that little black folder.