Disclaimer: I love Starbucks but I recognize that we share Starbucks stories, and companies like theirs, frequently. I wanted to start sharing stories from companies you might not be too familiar with to give evidence that regardless of your industry or size of company, you too can become a case study. If you know of a great customer experience story please share in the comments section of this post.
I’m going to share something with you that has helped me be the best customer-centric leader that I can be for my company, team and customers.
My partners and I run a business that has 150 employees – people who rely on us to constantly be customer-focused. After all, it stems from the top! We welcome over 50,000 guests per month to our venues, so we have to build scalable systems that allows us to deliver great customer experiences each and every time.
What’s my secret?
I spend a few hours a week studying other companies and use their stories as motivation to constantly strive to be better than we are today (as of writing this blog post our Net Promoter Score is 79).
I wanted to share three stories from companies that inspire me. One of the companies I mention below I have a relationship with (I’ve hosted a full-day workshop for them), one we’re familiar with but, perhaps, doesn’t get the same press coverage as companies like Ritz Carlton or Zappos, and the last is one my business partners and I own and operate.
As you read this blog post, I suggest you think, “why not us?!”
Why can’t WE lead our industry like this?
Why can’t OUR team consistently deliver exceptional experiences like this?
Why can’t I lead MY team like this?
The answer is…YOU CAN!
If you like what you read, please consider sharing this on social media and with your team. Enjoy!
CBC Federal Credit Union
The story: One of their members (their terminology for customers) who had been a member of theirs since 2004, recently had something happen that impacted him and had nothing to do with banking or finance.
Mr. Arteaga (second from the left) came into one of their branches in California for an everyday banking need. While being helped at the branch, the CBC employee learned that the member recently had something stolen from him that was very precious to him, a scarf.
The scarf was a gift from his son who brought it back from a trip to Spain. The scarf was particularly special to him because it was one of his favourite sports team, FC Barcelona (you may have heard of they’re star player, Lionel Messi). Mr. Arteaga expressed how upsetting it was to him because it was a gift from his son.
Armed with this information, the CBC employee organized the company to purchase a FC Barcelona scarf understanding that it wouldn’t hold the same sentimental value, but a thoughtful act nevertheless.
When you hear this story you might think, “that’s nice!” But, listen to what Mr. Arteaga had to say about the customer experience:
“You guys have been more than just a financial institution all these years and I am just blown away by this. You say it is a small act, but you have no idea. Coming here is like going to my Abuelita’s (grandmother’s) house.”
Over the years, this member has been a true advocate for the business recruiting his wife and other family member to do business with CBC Federal Credit Union.
My Take and Question: when I hosted a full-day workshop for CBC Federal Credit Union in October 2018 I introduced them to my micro customer experience (MCE) strategy. This framework will grow a business and inspire an entire organization to exceed the expectations of customers or, as CBC calls them, members.
The MCE program works when you train your team to listen and take action on what you’ve heard, provide them with an operating budget and lead by example (CBC Federal Credit Unions CEO, Patrick Miller, is pictured on the far right).
Have you provided your team with the operating budget (something on your P&L) to deliver these exceptional customer experiences?
The story: A Hampton Inn employee in Pennsylvania named Kahlief did something that surely will resonate with this young guest named Colin for years to come.
Colin has autism and doing card tricks is not only a passion of his but also helps him focus. When Colin met Khalief he asked if he wanted to see some of his card tricks. Khalief marvelled at Colin’s experience and went ahead and showed Colin a few tricks of his own not once, but twice on consecutive days.
Something Khalief didn’t know is that Colin had recently lost his father, was living with his mother and sister and longing for more male interaction since the passing of his father.
The Hampton Inn team member could have easily excused himself from being able to entertain Colin because he was too busy. But, he took ownership over his role and was able to manage both serving guests and delivering an experience Colin has never seen before.
My Take and Question: You might think, “This is a nice story” but let’s not stop there. Your employees need, what I refer to as customer-centric DNA, to do this authentically. You and I can’t train our employees how to do this habitually. Khalief is a perfect example of a professional that willingly delivers memorable customer experiences to guests. As leaders of our companies, it’s our responsibility to find team members like Khalief and get out of their way to deliver these types of customer experiences.
Before I explain the ROI of doing this, isn’t it something we should be doing to build true businesses? Ones that our communities love!
The ROI of customer experiences like these are customer loyalty, engaged employees (team members with this type of DNA thrive off being able to do things like this in the workplace) and free media as many major local and national news (ABC News, Today and Good Morning America) outlets have shared this story.
During your interview process, do you ask probing questions (like this one) to identify if the person you’re interview has a customer-centric DNA?
Okay, okay, okay. This customer experience is from one of my businesses but I stand behind the story because it’s a great one!
One day a woman called into Baro to make a reservation. While our hostess was accommodating the guest on the phone, she mentioned that she would be heading to Punta Cana the following day for a vacation.
With this “customer intelligence” in hand, our hostess alerted our manager, Christina Parihar (someone I profile in my People-First Culture book) and our marketing department. They put together a customized brochure profiling information that the guest would find useful for her trip: places to eat, typical climate, local customs and more.
Prior to the guests arriving for their reservation, our hostess team had the brochures placed subtly inside their menu which were placed on their table before they arrived. Sure enough, we received the reaction we had hoped for which was the guest thinking, “How on earth did they pull this off?” You see, we had less than 24 hours to gather the information, design the brochures and have them professionally printed.
As you can imagine, this was another example of creating an experience your customers have never seen before that is worth sharing with family, friends and the internet.
My Take and Question: Examples like these aren’t just reserved for customer-facing team members. Notice how we included our marketing team, employees who typically aren’t customer-facing. Our finance team has been trained to do this for our investors and our vendors such as our payroll company, banking representatives and insurance providers. To truly build a people-first culture, you must include EVERYONE in your company to deliver experiences like these. It’s not just reserved for customer-facing roles.
During onboarding, regardless of the department, do you train your team and make them aware that everyone is responsible for creating experiences like these? Do you habitually mandate that these experiences be delivered regularly?
If you’ve been inspired by this post, please consider sharing it on social media and with your team!
For information, on how I can help your company create experiences like these for your customers, email me firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website www.michelfalcon.com to learn about my private workshops and keynote presentations.