John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

January 27, 2012, 8:19 am
Filed under: Customer Experience, Customer Service, Customer Service Training

I have always said, “Don’t just tell me about how a Nordstrom salesperson made a quick trip to a competitor to purchase the pair of shoes you wanted because Nordstrom was out of them. Tell me how I can get all my employees to think and act that way.” Does their behavior depend on whether the management is present, or does it depend on which employee you get, or if that employee is having a good day? While I like to think we have always had an  “above-and-beyond” culture at John Robert’s Spa, not all of our employees were providing that kind of experience. When we asked, “Why don’t you go above and beyond more often?” the typical response was, “The opportunity never presents itself.”
Now, the truth of the matter is that everyone gets the same number of above-and-beyond opportunities; the only difference is some employees see the opportunity and act on it, while others fail to see it. We had to proactively create an above-and-beyond culture. When we did that, we started to see a dramatic increase in the incidence of above-and-beyond stories and in the percentage of service-minded team members who were making those stories happen.

Five Steps to Creating an Above-and-Beyond Culture
1.    Empower employees with autonomy and confidence that they can aggressively go above and beyond without being second-guessed by management.
2.    Train employees to be able to consistently recognize above-and-beyond opportunities that occur.
3.    Inspire them on how to think outside the box and go above-and-beyond for the customer.
4.    Acquire and document all above-and-beyond stories that happen in your organization.
5.    Advertise and recognize those stories and employees throughout your entire organization.

Here is the crazy thing: You only have to do three of the five steps. Steps 4 and 5 actually take care of steps 2 and 3. When you put systems in place to catch all the above-and-beyond stories (step 4) and then continuously celebrate and advertise them to everyone in your organization (step 5), you start teaching your employees where all the opportunities exist (step 2), and how to deliver above-and-beyond service (step 3). The more that happens, the more that gets recirculated and it can become self-perpetuating, as long as you keep documenting and celebrating.

The above-and-beyond culture starts with documenting every above-and-beyond story that you hear from someone in your company. You can’t just hope you find out about these stories; you have to solicit them. First, at every John Robert’s Spa location, our close day report, which gets sent to our corporate office, includes these stories.  It’s not at all unusual for one location to forward several great new above-and-beyond opportunities in a single day. We also ask our customers. We have signs where guests check out that read:

“Tell us if any of our team members were a hero for you. If so, please fill out an above-and-beyond card,
and you will be entered to win a day of pampering.”

We encourage our employees to submit stories about themselves and each other.

All the stories we collect from guests, employees, and managers get added to our above-and-beyond document, that today has over 2,000 stories in total. We Cameron Mitchell then recirculate the top stories in orientation, in customer service training, and in our employee newsletters. Every day we end each preshift huddle with a recent above-and-beyond story, hoping to inspire our team members to recognize similar opportunities that may present themselves. We also adopted a concept from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants; every time a guest sends us an e-mail, letter, or voicemail with a positive story about an experience, we prominently display that item, with the team member’s name, so all team members can see it.

And finally, at our annual awards event, we give out the Secret Service Award, an award determined by employee vote, to the team member who performed the best above-and-beyond story of the year. This honor meets two objectives. First, it’s a great way to recognize the individual for outstanding heroic service, and second, we are educating our employees about all the different opportunities for them to deliver world-class service, since all employees review all the top above-and-beyond stories to cast their vote.

~John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.


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