Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pump up the Staff

"Time is the friend ofthe wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre."
-     Warren Buffett

The new season seems to finally have arrived. To get your staff pumped up and ready to kick off the next 12 months, plan an inspirational seminar or dinner where everyone is expected to come up with a new and innovational customer service idea and pitch it to the group. Stress thinking outside the box and that there are no bad ideas. Below is a great story to start the meeting.

This story was first related to me by Phil Owenby at Kinloch Golf Club. I have since used it to start every customer service seminar I give to the pro shop staffs I work with. This is a reposting by special request of the first blog entry I posted in this space.

The Story of Johnny the Bagger (as told by Barbara Glanz)

A few years ago, I was hired by a large supermarket chain to lead a customer service program to build customer loyalty. During my speech I said, “Every one of you can make a difference and create memories for your customers and motivate them to come back. Put your personal signature on the job. Think about something you can do for your customers to make them feel special - a memory that will make them come back.
About a month after I had spoken, I received a call from a 19-year-old bagger named Johnny. He proudly informed me that he was a Down syndrome individual and told me his story. “I liked what you talked about!” he said, “but at first I didn’t think I could do anything special for our customers. After all, I’m just a bagger. Then I had an idea!”

Johnny said, “Every night after work, I’d come home and find a thought for the day. If I didn’t find a saying I liked, I would think them up.”
When Johnny had a good thought for the day, his dad helped him set it up on the computer and print multiple copies. Johnny cut out each quote & signed his name on the back. Then he’d bring them back to work each day. “When I finish bagging someone’s groceries, I put in the thought for the day and say ‘Thanks for shopping with us!’

It touched me to think that this young man with a job most people would say is not important, had made it important by creating precious memories for all his customers.
A month later the store manager called me and said “You won’t believe what happened. When I was making my rounds today, I found Johnny’s checkout line was three times longer than anyone else’s! It went all the way around the frozen food aisle. So I quickly announced, “we need more cashiers; get more lanes open,” as I tried to get people to change lines. But no one would move! They said, ‘No, its okay - we want to be in Johnny’s lane - we want his ‘Thought for the Day’.”

The store manager continued, “It was a joy to watch Johnny delight the customers. I got a lump in my throat when one woman said, ‘I used to shop at your store once a week, but now I come in every time I go by, because I want to get Johnny’s ‘Thought for the Day’.”

A few months later, the manager called me again. He said, “Johnny has transformed our store. Now when the floral department has a broken flower or an unused corsage, they find an elderly woman or a little girl and pin it on them. Everyone’s having a lot of fun creating memories. Our customers are talking about us - they’re coming back and bringing their friends. A wonderful spirit of service has spread throughout the entire store - and all because Johnny chose to make a difference!”

Johnny’s idea was not nearly as innovative as it was loving. It came from the heart - it was real. That’s what touched his customers, his peers and those who hear this story.
Great service comes from the heart. Will you be a Johnny today?

One thing that will never change is that people patronize those shops that make them feel special and avoid buying from those where they are ignored. Barbara closes her service seminars with the question – “Will you be a Johnny today?” I suggest at the seminars I give, after having told the “Johnny” story, that if a 19 year old with Down syndrome can make such a dramatic difference imagine what this grup should be able to come up with.  Cutting-edge service is a topic we will come back to often as it is clearly every business’s least expensive and most necessary differentiator.