The next time you go to the movies, stick around and watch the credits at the end. Think about how many people it takes to make a movie.  Literally hundreds of people are needed, in fact, a study of the 100 top-grossing films of each year between 1994 and 2013 found that there was an average of 588 crew credits per film. Granted, I am sure there are some positions that are unessential but I am going to guess that the vast majority are essential since most movie investors are not so willing to pump an endless stream of money into something whose return is predicated on the whims of the public.

What’s my point? I want you to think about your business.  How many people work quietly in the background to make your success possible?  What do the credits in your business, your movie, look like?  Does everybody get recognized, even if only in small print?

I am always surprised at the number of business leaders (and people in general for that matter) who neglect the many people who play a part in making them successful.

Here is a challenge.  Starting today, make a point of showing gratitude for at least one person who works several rungs down the ladder from you.  In fact, make it someone you don’t see too often.  Seek out a person every day to whom you can say, “Thank you for what you do day in and day out to help this company to be successful.”


Is Inconsistency Hurting Your Message?

I was just watching the news on TV and a commercial came on marketing a window installation company.  Now this is nothing new or spectacular but I did find some things that were worth noting.

The ad in question went to great lengths to point out how the company was different from competitors.  There were references to how their technicians are more professional.  They wear branded hats, branded shirts rather than coveralls, and floor-friendly shoe covers.  They speak of how they are not distracted by doing a bunch of different things, they do windows, and that’s all.  Overall it is a pretty good ad that makes them look different and potentially better although they didn’t show any of their work so the jury is still out.

The problem for me came at the end of the ad.  When the logo and phone numbers came up on the screen, the tagline under the company name said, “Windows, Siding, Doors.”  What’s the problem you ask?  Earlier they said all they do is windows to point out that they are in effect specialists, experts in windows.  However, the final screen makes it clear that they do more than windows.

Okay, big deal, but here’s my issue.  If they say one thing yet show you something else later, how am I to trust them when they show up?  If someone missed this detail in their ad, what details will they miss in installing my windows?

Now this may be nitpicking but when it comes to business, it is attention to detail that defines quality and it is consistent messaging that builds trust.

Where are there inconsistent messages in your marketing?  Where do you need to check the details?

Positive Impact

I went to my local PNC Bank branch on a Saturday morning and the automatic teller machine had a few people waiting so I went inside.  I had low expectations assuming the employees would be less than pleased to be working on Saturday. I thought they would probably be a little grumpy and impatient.  Boy was I wrong.  What I encountered was two tellers who were super positive, helpful, and happily bantered with me before I carried out my business.

I was depositing a check and it was made out to me but with my name spelled wrong.  Fortunately, I remembered back to my youth when my dad taught me about checks and remembered that when your name was spelled wrong you had to endorse it with the incorrect spelling and then again with the correct spelling.  The teller noticed this and made mention that she was surprised as most people did not know to do it.  She then went on to tell me a few other interesting facts about check writing/cashing protocol.  All in all it was a great experience.

What’s my point in relaying this you may ask?  It’s this. These employees were working on a Saturday when most people are off work, particularly in the banking industry, and they displayed no negative attitudes.  They took time to talk and connect, and they made my morning better.  What’s more, their positive actions seemed to not only make my day better, but theirs as well.

How can you lead your people to make a positive impact on your customers? How can you make your workplace one where employees are happy, even on the weekends, and inspired to be helpful?

Attitude is Everything

In a recent airline experience at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport in Baltimore, I had to check my luggage which is unusual but I had to take a lot of stuff on this trip and had a big bag that wouldn’t fit in the overhead bin.  I usually hate dealing with the surly folks who I typically encounter at airline check-in desks, but on this occasion, I was pleasantly surprised.

When I reluctantly walked up to the Air Canada counter, I was greeted by a woman, Colleen,  who gave me an enthusiastic “Good morning!” with big smiles.  I was somewhat bowled over by the enthusiasm.

I was then asked for my flight information which I would normally have at hand but her excited greeting had thrown me off my game.  Anyway, as I fumbled to find my flight information, she continued to smile and wait patiently with not an ounce of grumpiness (amazing considering the extremely early hour) or the typical apathy I usually experience from airlines reps.  This attendant appeared to have a genuine desire to help with not a bit of canned, scripted, corporate language, nor the usual inability to make eye contact (BTW… Could someone explain why airline ticket and gate agents are constantly typing away on computers like a teenager texting at the dinner table? What is it they are constantly doing and why does every question require 10 minutes of typing?  Note to airline execs: Teach your people to stop typing and make eye contact, and maybe look into making your computer systems easier to manage so employees can spend more time actually connecting with customers.).

The next step was to print my ticket and baggage tag so we stood and chatted amiably for a few moments while things began spitting out of the printer.  It was then that my new airline friend casually asked me if I liked aisle seats, I responded that I really preferred looking out the window but there were no window seats left when I booked the flight. Then, without another word, she went about typing, reprinting my ticket, and informing me that I now had a nice window seat.  What could I say to that but WOW!  I was amazed, in love, overjoyed, the list goes on.

Now, did she do anything that warranted a medal? No, not really, but what did she do?  She had a great attitude, she made me believe she cared whether she really did or not and she treated me like a family member regardless of whether I was a gold, diamond, ruby, preferred flyer or not.  Who could ask for more than that in a customer experience?

LESSON: A positive, friendly attitude and a genuine desire to help others is what takes an unremarkable service experience and makes it a memorable, hospitality experience.  So, if you want your business to be memorable and create an army of customer advocates, find passionate, genuine people who want to help others, and then get them out there on your stage.  You can have the greatest product in the world but turning bland service into a hospitality experience is the real difference that creates long-term, high returns.

Thanks Colleen for being the best.  Keep up the good work.