2017 American Book Fest 2017 Best Book Award 2017 North American Book Awards Silver Medalist 2018 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist Add a Little Sparkle to Your Service In his newest book on innovative service, bestselling author Chip R. Bell focuses on the importance of delivering the “core” of a service experience in a fashion that is value-unique, not just value-added. In his own words, “Innovative comes from your core; it evokes an experience of genuineness, a sense that its source is deep, not superficial.” This wonderful book offers powerful, practical advice, along with engaging stories of ways a novel service experience can also be one that is profound.
|Publisher:||Greenleaf Book Group Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 6.50(h) x (d)|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 18 Years|
Read an Excerpt
Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles
By Chip R. Bell
Greenleaf Book Group PressCopyright © 2017 Chip R. Bell
All rights reserved.
ADD A LITTLE SPARKLE
* * *
"We wait, starving for moments of high magic to inspire us, but life is full of common enchantment waiting for our alchemists eyes to notice."
— JACOB NORDBY
The beautiful Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel on the waterfront in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, is truly enchanting. When I stayed there, my guest room had a spectacular panoramic, twenty-first floor view of the Salish Sea. But the best feature was displayed on the high-tech, industrial-strength work desk — a circular box of pick-up sticks, an antique slinky in its original box, and a colorful kaleidoscope!
The ultramodern furnishings bathed in an abundance of chrome, glass, and push-button everything were cheerfully contrasted with the simple, colorful toys of yesteryear. This unique blend was meant to make you pause, reflect, and feel like the room had given you a great big "welcome home" hug. The kaleidoscope grabbed my attention and held on tightly. What if the features of a kaleidoscope were embedded in experiences you create for those you serve?
Kaleidoscopes are addictive. They make you privately ooh and ah as you turn the animator and behold the patterns of colorful glass that charm you. The view can be as special as a grandchild's hug, as exciting as new puppy, and as awe-inspiring as a double rainbow. Innovative service has the same emotional influence and poignant hold. It creates a chain reaction, a tugging at our heart that triggers us to tug on our wallet.
Kaleidoscopes also have the attributes of the kind of experiences we all desire — as customers, employees, and colleagues. Notice how we all like good service, but only boast, shout, or tweet about experiences that are unique and produce an emotional connection. Good is the key to customer retention, but unique is the secret to customer advocacy. Master kaleidoscope experiences and dispense them to those you serve, and you will lasso their hearts.
Customers Care When They Share
I was enjoying a three-day stay at a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in San Antonio, Texas. Shortly after lunch on my second day, the hotel manager placed a flip chart with a hand-printed sign in the lobby. "Dear guests: We need your help. The aunt of one of our housekeepers has passed away and today is the funeral. This was an important person in this housekeeper's life; we all felt we should be at the funeral. Consequently, there will only be one employee on site ... at the front desk ... between 2 and 3:30 p.m. We ask your patience and understanding. Thanks, the manager!"
Courtyard customers immediately shifted into a mode of helping each other. Guests served other guests coffee in the lobby bistro. One guest said, "Why don't I be the greeter like at Walmart?" Guests welcomed arriving guests and personally explained what was on the lobby sign. Even the next day as I was checking out, guests were still talking about how fun it was when "We ran the hotel!" Sometimes the most wonderful words customers can hear you say are, "I need your help." People will care when they share.
Kaleidoscopes function differently from their utilitarian cousins — binoculars, telescopes, and microscopes. Once you adjust these other devices to suit your vision, you just stare through them, much like viewing a photo. Kaleidoscopes invite you to alter the cavalcade of color and design simply by rotating the animator. The more you rotate, the higher the candlepower on your grin. And just when you think you have seen the pinnacle of glass-mosaic artwork, another image tops the one before.
Enchanting Equals Enduring
Here is your service quiz! You own a fine-dining restaurant in ... let's say in New Orleans. You have a wonderful dessert menu customers rave about. But you notice that many patrons only order coffee since they are too stuffed to eat dessert. You do not want to make your entrée servings smaller — generosity is one of your brand distinctions. But you would love to find an ingenious way to leave guests more thrilled than a good cup of coffee is likely to ensure.
A common practice of upscale restaurants is to provide petit fours or mignardises (small pastries) "compliments of the chef." That's not good enough for the fabulous Restaurant R'evolution in the Royal Sonesta New Orleans hotel in the French Quarter. There, the waiter brings out a red Peruvian jewelry box with little drawers filled with mini truffles, tiny shortbreads, baby peanut butter biscotti, miniscule decorative chocolates, and such. The creation of executive pastry chef Erin Swanson (now the executive sous chef at the Pontchartrain Hotel nearby), it is the enchanting finale about which customers tell compelling stories.
When I interviewed Chef Erin about how she came up with the idea of a jewelry box for the unique presentation of her tiny desserts, she went straight to reconceiving the definition of dessert. "I always enjoyed making miniature colorful desserts. And I have always thought of them as little jewels. So, where do you put jewels?"
Enchanting, innovative service, like the image created inside the kaleidoscope, is handcrafted and intended to make recipients swoon, sigh, and giggle. It is the waitress in a Manhattan diner putting her flower arrangement from her wedding anniversary the day before on your table; the auto dealership that puts a rose on the dash of a customer's car after she has had it serviced; or the Disney World housekeeper who tucks stuffed toys into bed while the hotel room's guests are away in the theme park, making it appear as if the toys had magically come alive.
One of the most intriguing features of a kaleidoscope is that you never see the same colorful arrangement twice. This keeps us hooked and delighted. And it is an invitation to all service providers to constantly up their game. The good news is that, while there may be a limit to value-added generosity, there is no limit to value-unique ingenuity!
Examine your customers' experiences as if you were an "experience auditor" from Cirque du Soleil, Disney World, or Bass Pro Shops! What would Lady Gaga do to amaze? What would Stephen Spielberg do to enthrall? Ask a spunky eight-year-old to suggest ways to enchant. How could you add a little simple magic? What would balloons, chocolate coins, or funny or inspiring one-liners on a note do to make your customers' experiences more magical? Start every day with an "It's showtime!" attitude, and then give your customers the time of their lives. Take a page from the Fairmont Pacific Rim and add a touch of enchantment to the features of the service you deliver!
Animators for Enchantment
A kaleidoscope, like innovative service, creates the experience of being under a magical spell. They both charm as much as they entertain — appeal as much as they intrigue. A kaleidoscope's alluring display of color and shape seems charismatic and mystical, like the simple surprise of service with ingenuity.
Recall what you love about opening a Cracker Jack box and answer this question: What could be your monetarily inexpensive but emotionally priceless "free prize inside" your customer's experience?
What is the color of your customers' experiences? Black and white or Technicolor? If they were inside a kaleidoscope, how would your service experiences appear to your customers? How can you make them enchanting?
Delight is in the eye of the customer. Find out what specific features of service would elevate your customers' delight and loyalty. Ask them this: "For you to describe our customer experience to someone as awesome or uniquely delightful, what would have happened?"
Conduct a sense audit. What could your service experience smell like, sound like, feel like, look like, taste like if you wanted to truly excite your customers in a fashion that sticks in their memory?
Service that truly "saves" people starts with an obvious and genuine desire to serve. If your customers gave you a grade on your authentic eagerness to serve, what grade would they give you? What could you do to get an A+?CHAPTER 2
HONOR YOUR CUSTOMER
"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us."
— ANNE LAMOTT
Howard Perdue was the owner, manager, and spiritual leader of the Ford Tractor dealership in McRae, Georgia, during the fifties and sixties. In that era, about 185 percent of the population — practically every man, woman, child, dog, and mule — was involved in the overtime occupation of worrying about soybean prices and praying for rain. Since no one could do much serious farming without a tractor and the proper plows, Mr. Perdue was the center of the universe. He was also my mother's brother.
The Perdue-farmer relationship was a special one. Few farmers started the planting season with enough money to fund all their farm equipment needs. They typically bet — along with Howard — on the success of their harvest. Their new combine or fertilizer spreader was bought on credit and a promise to pay "when I make my crop." Frequently, farmers literally "bet the farm" when an unexpected equipment failure led to an unforeseen expense. But the risk was not only on the customer's side; if the farmer could not harvest their crops, Howard lost as well.
I once overheard a troubled farmer pleading his cash shortage problem to Carl Vardaman, who ran the parts counter. "I'm sure Mr. Howard will understand your situation," Carl assured him. I watched from behind the counter as Howard emerged from the garage, wiping engine grease from his hands. The farmer and Howard greeted each other without shaking hands — farmers generally only shook hands with the preacher when leaving the church. "How's Mary?" Howard asked, attempting to alter the straight lines on the farmer's downcast face.
I didn't hear their conversation — they went behind closed doors. But when they emerged, Howard announced to Carl that Mr. Garrison would be getting a new carburetor. It was coded communication — a signal from Howard to Carl that credit had been extended, boundaries expanded, and trust restored. The farmer left with his head held high. Grace performs marvelous feats.
Grace is also a word with a heavy load. Some words are simple, with a singular direct meaning. Not grace. It can mean simple elegance — as in, a sense of class and polish. We use it when we describe the effortless movement of a superb athlete or the easy graciousness of a host. Grace can mean honoring the presence of someone — "You grace us with your company" — and grace can shoulder its biggest payload in the religious definition of "unmerited or unconditional favor or love."
Graceful service is an assertion, not a response. It is an attitude, not a tactic. We get a glimpse when we witness a random act of kindness. But service full of grace is not random; it is perpetual. To riff on a line from Jack Nicholson in the movie As Good as It Gets, it makes a customer want to be a better person. Like some mysterious alchemy, when compassion meets caustic, all the acidity disappears. Grace not only tames hostility, it enriches the ordinary and elevates "I got my money's worth" to "I have a story to tell."
Always Count on Goodness
Archeologists excavating the pyramids discovered an unexpected treasure — wheat seeds that dated back to around 2,500 BC. As in the tradition of antiquity, the seeds were there for the dead pharaohs to eat if they got hungry. The find would enable scientists to determine what variety of wheat was in use in the ancient world and could be invaluable for launching new strains of wheat. Out of curiosity, the scientists planted the 4,500-year-old wheat seeds in fertile soil, and an amazing thing happened. They grew!
The seed story has always amazed me. How could seeds that ancient still grow? Then, a friend pointed out that the moral of the story might not be in the seeds, but rather in the fertile soil. "Every living thing on the planet," he advised me, "has the capacity to do remarkable things if placed in fertile soil." Innovative service starts with the assumption of the goodness of customers. And such a belief can ignite a self-fulfilling prophecy. Customers treated with goodness assume the behavior and attitude of goodness.
The assumption of goodness is manifested as sincere respect. When I was a kid, I used to accompany my grandfather to town in his pickup truck to buy a few bags of feed for his cows. To and from the feed store we talked about stuff like two old friends, not like an elder and a kid talking. And he always introduced me as Mr. Chip to the people we encountered. If the sales person at the feed store asked him how many bags he wanted loaded, he would point toward me and declare, "Mr. Chip can tell you." As a ten-year-old, I felt very grown up. It is that same type of declaration, respect, and affirmation that provides fertile soil for growing a customer relationship.
How would an assumption of goodness have changed the outcome in that famous scene in Pretty Woman when Vivian Ward was treated with arrogance and disdain? What would have happened if Howard Perdue had played stern banker instead of benevolent neighbor with his neighbor in need? Instead of watching rejection at Howard's tractor store, I saw sincere respect, and rather than judgment, I witnessed grace. And the payoff was plain to see when Howard showered all three definitions of grace upon his grateful customer.
Serve with Bold Altruism
Everyone, regardless of faith or theology, knows the story of the Good Samaritan. The parable is about a man who stops to give aid to someone who hates him. The man who needs help is a robbery victim and Jewish; at the time, Samaritans were considered by many to be an inferior people whom they despised. Think of the view as similar to the one that bigoted whites in the Deep South held of African-Americans in the early 1950s.
But there is an unfamiliar part of this all-familiar story. Before stopping to help his "neighbor," the Samaritan had walked from Jericho to Jerusalem, thirty miles uphill on challenging, rocky terrain populated by thieves. The route was called The Way of Death. Despite the exhaustion and anxiety from his journey, he stops to help his enemy, transports him to a nearby inn, and covers all his costs. He could have said, "I am too tired," "I'll be rejected," or "This is too hard." Instead, he invests in the situation in a way that makes all the difference. It is more than a gift; it is a bold and conscious sacrifice.
Tom's Shoes donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair a customer purchases from the company. Scooter's Coffee sources 100 percent of their coffee beans from shade tree plantations. Customers know that each cup they drink saves two square yards of rainforest in Latin America. When Houston based Hilcorp Energy made a challenging corporate goal, all 1,380 employees, regardless of position, got a performance bonus — $100,000 each. Graceful service takes more than routine effort or everyday contribution: it is an abundance of spirit; it is contribution beyond what is reasonable; it is altruistic.
Be the giver you hope your customers become. Show your most focused, treasure-hunting curiosity. Be slow to blame, quick to affirm, and the very best at celebrating your customers. Always do what you say you will do. If you can't, renegotiate early. Check all greed at the door. The world of work works when there is a deep-rooted connection to the conscience rather than a myopic focus on the competition. In the words of Tara Hunt in her classic book The Whuffie Factor, marketplace influence comes through "being nice, being networked, and being notable. There is no room for bullies or lots of money. Money may buy you an audience, but it will not guarantee influence."
We live in an era of cynicism. Customers today are on guard, half expecting a scam, rip-off, or unfair treatment. They witness hidden fees, nickel-and-diming practices, and greed-driven pricing. The venom often found on customer review sites reflects pent-up scorn from a collection of disappointments, not just a single incident. This makes graceful service a powerful remedy to indifference and irritation. It begins with acting like every day is your customer's birthday. You can start igniting grace with a simple, "I am here to serve and daringly make a difference in your life."
Animators for Grace
"Is there a light inside it?" my granddaughter asked while looking through the business end of my antique kaleidoscope. "No," I said. "The light comes from the outside and shines through this end." I could see the wheels of insight turning in her head. "So, it's like being really nice to people you don't even know." She is clearly developing the wisdom to animate her relationship with grace!
Respect is not what you believe; it is what you show. Use sir and ma'am to people you do not normally address in
that manner. Take actions that would get you the Ms. or Mr. Great Manners award!
Avoid giving any one-word answers to your customers' questions.
Be a proactive guardian of your customers' dignity. Stand up for their significance. Never let anyone hear you bad-mouth a customer.
Be the best example of integrity your customer has ever seen by always doing what is right and not being fixated on what is allowed.
Graceful service that is profound is the type that assumes innocence, even with a history of the opposite. Judgment fuels defensiveness, for you and your customer.
Excerpted from Kaleidoscope by Chip R. Bell. Copyright © 2017 Chip R. Bell. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsThe Trailer: Inside the Kaleidoscope,
1: Enchantment: Add a Little Sparkle,
2: Grace: Honor Your Customer,
3: Trust: Keep Your Covenants,
4: Generosity: Serve It Forward,
5: Truth: Nurture Total Candor,
6: Mercy: Let It Go,
7: Alliance: Stay ... On Purpose,
8: Ease: Take Care of Flow,
9: Passion: Be All There,
The Souvenir: Top That!,
A Word About QR Codes,
About the Author,