Wednesday August 29, 2012
By Stephen Yates - learnpurple associate
Take a moment to think about your last holiday away. Be it exotic or traditional, city or sun scorched sandy beaches, eating outside or simply just relaxing…mmm there’s a thought!
As people holiday over the next month, many recovering from the excitement of Olympics and Paralympics, they’re no doubt already thinking about the Autumn and Winter business ahead; how to reignite passion for self and team to reach the lofty heights beyond excellence and thus ensure customers come back again and again.
The answer is in your holiday!
I’ve just returned from two weeks of Andalucian food, cuisine and service and there definitely seems to be a lesson that can be learnt from going away and being the customer for an intense few weeks. Spanish tapas, fresh figs eaten off the tree, and 18 month cured ham with olive oil made for the gods. Throw in a dollop of local passion and pride and it really brings home what service means abroad and how we can easily weave this into what we deliver in our normal place of work by incorporating three points:
Tell a story
When you were thinking about your last holiday and places you visited, what did you remember? I’d imagine it was the stories; the narrative – where the food has come from, the origins, culture and history; the preparation, the local farmer who brings the acorn fed pork to the restaurant every week on his horse and cart, or the just picked leaves that go straight from field to table in a matter of hours.
It’s these personal stories that make the difference between ‘sales’ and ‘service’. Capture the really colourful stories, the personal stuff - it’s what I call “fresh figs from the tree”. Embellish your service with true, passionate stories and grab the customer’s attention. You’ll make the delivery real and authentic; creating the desire to return and try more.
Get into the habit of watching and tuning in
The real benefit of going away on holiday is in exploring an alien culture…no matter how well someone knows a place, they are still outsiders! And the great advantage of being an outsider is that it provides an opportunity to really tune into surrounding tones, language and body language. If there’s one thing customer service providers need to be doing it’s recognising customer behaviour; an essential tool for creating loyalty and memorable service.
Whilst on holiday I watched behaviours; identifying where matching and mismatching was occurring between service staff and the customer. It may be a cliché; however actions really can say much more than words! Take time to step back, observe what’s going on in your business. Embrace the role of the alien! Watch with curiosity and read what’s really going on; learning what you can do to really get into the customer’s world.
It’s in the detail
It’s the small details which really make the difference, be it how a cold beer is served (apparently if a beer is served at anything other than freezing cold in Spain they spit in it and hand it back to the bar tender- now that’s body language!) or which cheese is served with which aged ham…It’s what we call the ‘moments of truth’ at the ‘Purple Palace’.
In Spain, everything was about these ‘moments of truth’; the small details. From the drama over choosing the right tomatoes, where each was closely scrutinised, to the colour of the garlic, questioned and examined when buying a bulb from the local convenience store.
Sadly, back in the home environment, the daily hustle and bustle often means it’s these small details which often drop off the radar. So make an effort to take a look at this detail which makes the difference between providing a service that’s standard and something which stands out and has passion behind it.
What’s the moral of this story? Take your holiday with you back into the workplace. Use the things you’ve learnt and seen to tell stories, share experiences and pick up on the little details. By taking on board the three points mentioned you’ll make the service you deliver passionate, real and mark the difference between average and outstanding. How could anyone not be fired up with passion when telling a story around, for example, what the chef has on the menu, watching and listening to the customers light up and see that repeat business role in!
So go on, book that next holiday and embrace the experience to enhance your service…