Honesty is the Best Policy

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By Guest Blogger EJ Widun

For those of you who follow Lead in the Moment, you know that we not only love servant leadership but incredible customer experiences. At times, we will share the good and bad of these experiences. In this case, it is a story of how honesty created raving fans for a local business and additional revenue.

This summer I decided to focus on my health. You can consider it a delayed New Year’s Resolution. In my youth, I was an avid bike rider but I had not ridden a bike in fifteen years. This summer I decided it was time to bike again.

Obviously, my bike was old. I was not sure if it would be worth getting it fixed or buying a new bike. I loaded my old bike into the car and drove to a local bike shop. I wheeled in the bike and waited for my turn. As I waited, I walked through the store looking at the shiny new bikes. When my turn came up, I said to the gentleman, I wanted to get my bike looked at. I don’t know if it is worth fixing or getting a new bike. He said, this bike (he never used the word old) is a great bike and just needs a tune up. You cannot get a bike like this anymore. I can get this bike ready in a day and you will save a lot of money because the new bikes are far more expensive.

I was totally shocked that he would not try to sell the new bike. When I picked up my “old” bike, it looked fantastic. After the pick-up, I took in my wife’s bike and my daughter’s bike for a tune-up. I also bought my son his first bike from this store. One interaction of pure honesty, created a lasting relationship and a raving fan.

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Customers or Friends – Who Would You Choose?

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By Guest Blogger EJ Widun

I am curious what you would do in a situation like this. The concepts of “right and wrong” are often blurred by circumstances and our personal biases.

Here is the situation…

You are the bartender at a local bar that draws not only a nice crowd but out of town visitors who come for the fare. On this one night while you are working, the bar is about 50% filled; there are several groups of seats available. All of the customers at the bar are busy enjoying their food and the ambiance. Your friends come into the bar and want to sit down at one particular spot but there is not enough room. You prefer them to sit in this spot because it is in a corner of the bar where you can talk to them when it is not busy.

What would you do in this situation? Would you ask the customers already seated and eating to move seats or would you ask your friends to sit in one of the open sections with enough seats for them?

When this happened to us recently, the bartender asked two groups of customers in the middle of their meals to move over so her friends could have the corner. As the customers, Kristin and I felt like we were not as important as the bartender’s friends. It impacted our mood and opinion of the establishment. It also impacted the other customers who were asked to move. The first couple immediately left the establishment and their food.

Should you cannibalize existing customers for your friends? Do you move people in the middle of a meal because “regulars” show up? As “regulars”, you look forward to the familiar faces and camaraderie an establishment can give you. You also feel a certain degree of comfort in having “your seats”. I can see both sides of the argument but as a customer; I can only see my immediate impact. If I were the business owner, I see a bad customer experience, lost revenue and the potential of reputational damage.

Every decision you make may have unintended consequences because of our personal biases. It is important to see things from as many angles as possible when taking action.

Give Them What They Need

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As the saying goes, I get by with a little help from my friends…..or my husband!  Insightful thoughts on needs vs. wants by EJ Widun.

While you are at work, do you try to give people what they want? If you are, you are probably not meeting their needs to the max. People will often struggle to verbalize what they actually need. They will explain what they are looking for or what they may want, but it is up to you to apply the “magic” to this list of requirements. The “magic” comes from you taking a step back, thinking like your customer, applying your special skills and techniques to deliver an excellent service or solution. If you do this, the client will be happy because they got what they needed not just what they want.

Let’s look at a simple example of getting what you need mattering more than what you want. I am sure that all of us have gone through a drive-thru and placed an order. Of course, you expect the order to be correct and that you received what you ordered. How much better is your experience when you go into the bag and find all the added amenities that you forgot to request? It could be condiments, extra napkins, a wet napkin. It makes your experience so much better, and you may not even realize it. This is a result of the people behind the counter hearing your order, giving you what you asked for and adding what you need to the equation. This may not seem like a big deal until you need those little extras. The little things matter too, so next time make sure you take the time to apply yourself to the customer’s situation and make their experience extraordinary.

You Don’t Make Decisions Unless You Ask Me!

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I would like to share this post from a guest blogger, EJ Widun.  Besides sharing my passion for Servant Leadership and customer service, he is also my better half!

On a recent family vacation, we were commuting to Naples from Orlando. After an early start from Orlando, we decided to make a rest stop and get some food at a fast food restaurant off the highway. It was 10:20 AM. According to the sign, the breakfast menu does not stop until 10:30 but our children prefer lunch instead of breakfast. I figured I would ask the young lady at the counter if it was possible to get a hamburger instead of breakfast. She looked at what was prepared behind her and noticed some burgers were up. She said sure no problem with a huge smile. I finished paying the bill and stepped to the side to wait for my order. While there, the store manager confronted the young lady. I don’t know if she realized it was my order or not, but the manager said to the young woman: “Who told you we could serve burgers now? Did you ask me? I don’t think so. You never serve anything off of menu without asking me!” The young woman replied with a sheepish response of: “I saw burgers up already and wrapped so I thought it was ok.” The manager snapped back: “You don’t think. You ask me and I will let you know. Is that clear?”

I was amazed and stunned by the reaction of a “customer-friendly” fast food establishment. The young lady at the counter did everything possible to make the visit as satisfying as possible; while the manager did not care and berated the poor customer focused team member.

This manager is clearly not a leader. She had no clue of what it takes to make a successful customer experience or making a team member feel good about taking initiative. As a leader, you should never publicly berate a team member over a customer’s order. So many missteps in what should have been a simple transaction. My experience at this restaurant not only impacted this trip but my opinion of the brand. So sad that a manager could not foster a positive experience, she not only damaged her own identity but the identity of the brand as well.

An Expert Opinion

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Experts are all around us. There are those whose expertise we value and those we ignore. There are high-priced experts who can provide valuable information for an organization, versus those who believe their own level of expertise far exceeds what they really know.

How does someone gain expert status? Do we consider someone an expert when they have an education or extensive background? If someone is successful in his or her chosen area of expertise, it could be said that person is an expert. Or do we trust someone who has an advertisement proclaiming his or her merits?

So who are we to believe? Is the term expert too widely used in our vocabulary today?  When something bad happens in the world, there is usually some expert interviewed by the news media.  Where do they find these experts?  If I can speak authoritatively on a specific subject, even though I may not have extensive knowledge to back it up, am I an expert? Unfortunately in many cases people will believe someone is an “expert” based upon his or her ability to appear credible.

What do you believe makes a person an expert?

How Does Your Culture Grow?

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Organizational culture – what is it and why has it become so important in the landscape of corporate America?

Where does an organization’s culture come from? Is it just a set of rules written by a committee and everyone is expected to blindly follow them? Is an organization’s culture a slogan or thought that a CEO just thinks up on the fly and insists everyone admire his or her brilliance? Does culture amount to the way in which everyone within an organization behaves or interacts with one another? These questions could go on and on, as there are probably as many interpretations of organizational culture out there.

I am always interested in hearing what people think about culture within the organization that employs them. Some believe it is the best thing out there, others believe it stinks. In reality, how many people actually understand the basics of your organization’s culture and could communicate them to someone? I have spoken with people throughout the years about the culture within their organizations, and to be honest, I was surprised at the responses. Many could not articulate a concise idea of what their organization stood for. They got hung up on the idea that organizational culture was how leadership treated them. While that is an important part of an organization’s culture, it is not the only thing. An organizational culture extends past the leader-team member relationship to also encompass an overall attitude about how you do business. Are you an organization that likes to have fun while working, are you passionate about making the world a better place, are you completely possessed with providing excellent service to your customers? These are all examples of what an organization’s culture might look like. Do we allow our team members to understand how our organization’s culture was created and why it is significant to our success?

How often do we communicate this information with our team members? Is organizational culture something we talk about during new team member orientation, and then promptly forget about it, leaving it on the shelf along with the new team member handbook? A piece of paper on a bulletin board in the team member break room doesn’t cut it. Organizational culture is not something that can be stuck up on the wall if you expect people to live it. If you expect your organization to have a strong culture, it needs to become part of your everyday thoughts and actions. If you personify the culture of your organization, then others will follow.

Share and Share Alike

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Anyone who has read my blog knows that I am an ardent supporter of leadership belonging to everyone in an organization, not just a handful of people with a title. If we believe that everyone has the potential to be a leader, how do we filter this concept down to every person within your organization?

The concept of shared leadership may sound like an odd idea. If you are a leader, it is your responsibility to lead, correct? What happens when we make the choice to share our leadership with others? I am not talking about passing the buck, shoving your dirty work onto your team members. What I am referring to is the idea that you should be taking the time to share your thoughts about leadership as well as allowing your team members to assist in the leadership process. Wouldn’t it be great if you created an opportunity for everyone to learn from one another? I felt that we all had something to contribute to the organization regardless of position. Just because I had the title of leader, it no way meant that I was the smartest person in the organization. Sharing my leadership increased my knowledge base from the many things I learned from my team along this journey. The organization also benefitted from the way in which the team was able to take up the reins of leadership. They felt more confident in the decisions that they made and were able to serve our customers in exemplary ways.

Are you a leadership miser, keeping it all to yourself, or do you believe leadership should be spread around?