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Blog : Naughty Macaroni


Naughty Macaroni

By Stephen Yates, learnpurple Associate

Have you ever had a customer return a product that’s just not quite right?

I was taking advantage of the wonderful weather we have been experiencing by having a lovely lunch in London. Whilst waiting to pay, I watched a disgruntled customer return his child’s meal saying: “It’s not hot; it’s cold- my daughter won’t eat that.” The response...  the three employees of the eatery scowled at the bowl of macaroni cheese almost as if it was the food that had misbehaved; a course of action chosen above immediately apologising for the short comings in satisfying the customer’s expectations and rectifying the situation.

Upon observing this exchange, I wondered if the employees felt their job had been completed once the bowl left the kitchen? In reality, the job is done once the customer journey is fully complete – when a hot meal has been digested and the customer leaves the premises happy and content. It seems that sometimes we are very quick to focus on the product and do not give enough focus on whether enough the customer journey can be completed in a positive manner.

What completes the customer experience is the interaction with the people who are involved in that journey. People buy from people. Our over-reliance on the ability of the product to satisfy the customer journey often means that as soon as we have to re-engage with the customer, great customer service falls flat on its face, and when challenged on this, we quickly fall back into our default or reactive modes. It’s partly what Daniel Goleman; author of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ calls the amygdala hijack – a natural unmanaged and unconscious reaction.

How many times have we been hijacked by our emotions; reacting to them rather than managing the situation appropriately?

Emotional Intelligence (EI)  has five, really simple, areas of concern when it comes to managing our emotional state:

•             Self-awareness

•             Managing self

•             Social awareness

•             Relationship management

•             Self-motivation.

For me, the real power of EI is the managing of self and personal motivation. It’s about being aware of how an individual reacts and the message they put out when dealing with difficult situations. This is the real application of EI; enabling us to be really aware of what is driving our own behaviours and what’s really going on when facing tricky situations which don’t seemingly appear on the perceived customer journey.

The application of EI in those difficult situations is not a tick box exercise. To teach our teams how to apply EI we have to get them to look at the real ‘truth’ of the situation.  In the case of the macaroni cheese, instead of the cold meal being the focus, it should have been the emotional disappointment of the customer, his daughter and the less than perfect experience that needed to be managed. Reheating the dish is the easy bit - pleasing an unhappy six year old is more challenging but should have been viewed as the fun part of completing the customer journey.

A perfect customer journey where product and service come together to give a great experience is the ideal we should all strive to achieve. Unfortunately times will occur where the product will fail to satisfy so we must be prepared to re-engage with the customer after we thought the job was done. By using EI in these situations we should take this opportunity as a chance to shine; ensuring that we deliver the really great customer service which is expected from us.

Take a moment to recognise your own emotions, how do you react and what would you focus on to make the perfect customer journey; is it the six year old little girl and her dad or is it the naughty macaroni cheese?

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