Every businessman knows that the key to turning customers into raving fans is to give exceptional customer service, to provide not only for the customer’s needs but for their every want and desire even before they know that they have a want or desire. What eludes many business owners is how to provide that level of customer service. Literally hundreds of books have been written and seminars sold on how to improve customer service. Experts have employees imagining everything from mailboxes to Caribbean beaches all in the hope of improving customer service.
Walt Disney World Resorts creates raving fans because they provide a vacation beyond your imagination. They accomplish this not through the miracles of animatronics or the amusement park atmosphere, these things can be found at hundreds of vacation destinations worldwide. Walt Disney World Resorts creates raving fans by infecting their employees (known as cast members) with epidemic enthusiasm and pandemic pride.
So how do you start an epidemic in your business?
The key to creating an epidemic of enthusiasm is to turn your customer service inward. To create for your employees a career experience beyond their wildest imagination. Epidemic enthusiasm comes from an experience of the relationship between your employees and you. When employees feel that they are truly appreciated as your everyday hero and that by coming to work they leave invigorated and their life is enhanced rather than leaving tired and their life diminished then your employees become infected with enthusiasm for their work. When they see their careers, their employer in comparison to those of their peers elsewhere they cannot help but catching pandemic pride because their employer treats them so well.
There are two simple steps to enriching your employees’ lives to the point where they know that they are valued and the infection of epidemic enthusiasm takes hold. Appreciation is the first of these two steps.
Robert is the CEO of a mediumsized company in South Central Florida. Every morning when Robert arrives at 9:40 a.m. he walks through the entire building greeting every employee from janitor through the managers with a genuine eyeglinting smile and a hardy good morning. If an employee appeared down, upset, or distracted he would take a moment to ask them if they were all right, if there was anything that he could personally do to make their day just a little bit brighter and if there was he would do it. It was not unusual to see Bob, as he encouraged his employees to call him, carrying coffee or water or hot tea to somebody’s desk just to make them feel a little better. Bob regularly said thank you for being here even though nothing special had been done yet. The day had just begun. His genuine enthusiasm and appreciation was warm, enveloping, and infectious. And it cost him nothing but a brief 20 minutes before his day began.
Robert is a living example of the first step to infecting your organization with epidemic enthusiasm and pandemic pride. The second step is to encourage resilience. There are six basic areas of human function:
Resilience has been described as mastery against adversity and by fostering the ability of your employees to show this mastery in the face of adversity either in the workplace or in their family or personal lives. You create an experience in their career that enriches their entire life. You make them masters not just of adversity but of their own destiny.
Resilience is built by filling six “canteens of resilience”:
- Physical resilience
- Emotional resilience
- Intellectual resilience
- Relationship resilience
- Functional resilience
- Spiritual resilience
Physical resilience is exactly as the name would imply. It is the physical capacity to continue working in light of physical and even emotional stress. Physical resilience is enhanced through the maintenance of good health and a healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet both at home and at work; regular exercise; and adequate rest, even during the disaster, are essential to “filling” your canteen of physical resilience and maintaining that resilience.
Emotional resilience deals directly with what we feel and how we respond to it. The old saying “attitude counts” was never more true than when filling your canteen of emotional resilience. Loving and being loved, including loving yourself; enjoying the everyday joys of life and ensuring that you have the opportunity for boundless joy and genuine happiness fill your canteen with the sweet emotions that counterbalance the bitterness of adversity. On the other hand, if you have filled your emotional canteen with despair; selfloathing; angst and animus then you will have nothing but bitter drags from which to drink when in the midst of a challenge.
Intellectual resilience is bolstered by the very act of learning and practicing the skills which you have learned. It is as we gain experience and knowledge we slowly imprint new patterns which we may later use to compare and ultimately recognize as familiar situations and events that unfold during an event. The more of these patterns that we have in our intellectual canteen the more quickly we can recognize and adapt to the ever changing business environment. When we can recognize these patterns quickly we can respond quickly thus bolstering our intellectual resilience.
Relationship resilience bolsters our social functioning. It is through our relationships with those that we hold dear, spouses and significant others; children and grandchildren; parents; relatives; friends; coworkers that we fill our canteen of relationship resilience with memories and comforting mental images that carry us through our times of separation. It is also these relationships that safeguard our lives and our emotions. It is through these relationships that we not only fill our canteens but keep them full and keep watch on each other.
Functional resilience bolsters our behavioral function. The skills that we have practiced in our day-to-day lives as we have moved through our careers are that with which we fill our canteen of functional resilience. Like the patterns in our canteen of intellectual resilience the skills of our functional resilience are no different at times of adversity than they are at times between challenges. We need only be able to access those skills more quickly and perform them more calmly.
Spiritual resilience is somewhat different because the canteen of spiritual resilience is not filled by what we believe, but rather by the fact that we believe. Research in the area of resilience has shown that the very act of believing enforces an even intelligence beyond ourselves, a higher purpose for higher power, bolsters our resilience, and improves our function and our likelihood to master adversity.
By assisting your team in developing resilience and maintaining that resilience they are not only better able to perform at work but in every other aspect of their lives.
Pam was the president of a small public relations firm and had an intimate understanding of the need to maintain full canteens of resilience. She had begun her professional career selling sports club memberships to highend clients and quickly learned that it was through demonstrating the benefits of health that she made the most sales. When she started her own company she maintained a treadmill in her office setting a visual example to employees and clients alike of the importance of personal health. She took a tremendous interest in her diet and her health care maintaining both at their peak potential.
She filled her life with positive affirmations and chose to allow negative emotional events and negative feelings to flow past her like water past a riverbank.
Her life was rich with friendships both personal and professional and if Will Rogers never met a man he didn’t like, then Pam never met a person that she did not have a smile for. Always learning Pam invested time in both personal and professional readings as well as audiostudy programs and an everexpanding range of intellectual interests and selfstudy. Her full intellectual canteen paled in comparison to her canteen of relationships which was always full to overflowing as she would make new friends even during the mundane activities of going to the store or traveling on an airplane. She encouraged her employees to do the same reserving a part of one day a week to play games, brainstorm, and just enjoy each other’s company in the office.
Pam also maintained her skills in all aspects of her business. Professional speaking and oneonone sales were part of the “personal touch” that allowed Pam to maintain some of the most soughtafter clients in the public relations world. Pam paid for her managers to travel with her to several key events each year so that they could maintain their skills in all aspects of the business as well as maintaining relationships with outoftown clients.
Pam’s spiritual canteen was filled by her belief that there was a higher power in the universe, a greater consciousness which was both benevolent and allpowerful. Never one to impose her beliefs on others, she maintained space within the company for the free personal expression of belief within the confines of each employee’s personal space.
By both leading by example and providing the template for success Pam imbued in her employees pride which became pandemic not just among those who worked for her but her people infected her clients, each of them as proud to say that her company represented them as she was to say that she represented each client.
Thus we see that epidemic enthusiasm and pandemic pride are infections created by those who own, operate, and lead the most successful businesses. It is this leadership and this attitude of employee service equal to customer service that creates employees that go on to turn loyal customers into raving fans that then spread the reputation and the name of your company.