As a presentation skills expert, I’m often asked, “Where do I find good stories and examples for my presentations?”
The answer lies in our everyday experiences. Here are a couple from my own journey, focusing on the important role of customer service.
Consider this: every interaction your organization has with customers either strengthens or weakens your relationship. This includes every letter, ad, phone call, and especially each employee interaction, from the CEO to the technicians and maintenance crews. It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?
The Power of Perspective
Remember, your business’s reputation is as strong as your least engaged employee. How well are you equipping your team to be ambassadors of your brand? Are any of your employees too high or too low in the hierarchy to impact customer perception?
A Story from the Big Apple
Let me take you back to a time in New York. My brother and I, on a whim, decided to catch a late-night movie. It was a Jean-Claude Van Damme film, so missing the first few minutes didn’t seem like a big deal. Here’s the twist—the cashier refused to sell us tickets because the cash drawer was already closed. Despite our pleas and even speaking to the manager, we left without watching the movie. I said to Brother, “Those employees are not serving the theatre or their patrons. They are only working for a paycheck.”
This experience was a classic example of not seeing through the customers’ eyes. A little flexibility could have turned us into happy customers. Instead, we remembered the theater for its inflexibility. And for many years it was a humorous story in my speeches.
Thinking Like the Boss
Another angle to customer service is encouraging your employees to think like the owner. Imagine if those theater employees had a sense of ownership. They would have understood that every ticket sold contributes to keeping the business thriving and paying them.
Here’s an inspiring example. At a speaking engagement for American Express in Arizona, I talked to one of their managers who wanted to buy ten boxes of chocolates as thank-you gifts for his team who had gone over and above on a recent project. He visited a local mall to buy the ten boxes. He noticed two candy stores across from each other. He entered the first store and asked, “Do you accept American Express?” Assured that they did, he selected his chocolates. Then he noticed the store had only posted Visa and MasterCard signs. Through the window, he saw that the candy store across the way had the American Express logo clearly visible on its door.
The manager explained to the salesperson that, as an American Express employee, he couldn’t in good conscious give his business to a store that did not advertise the card. He said, “I hope you’ll understand that I’ll have to take my business to the store that does.”
Just then, a sixteen-year-old stock boy asked him to wait a moment. The young man ran to the other candy store, picked up an American Express application, ran back, cut out the American Express logo, taped it to the register, and asked, “Is that good enough, sir?” Needless to say, they made the sale.
The manager told me, “Naturally I wanted to encourage his initiative. The next day they received the appropriate decals.”
That employee had no long-term career strategy with the candy store, yet he instinctively knew to take the initiative, creatively removing the problem and saving the customer. He also knew that if he didn’t act as if his name were on the door…it never would be. The best strategies are often the simplest, aren’t they?
Everyone Makes a Difference
As the legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey put it, “For a company’s advertising strategy to work, it has to be handled not only corporately but also individually.” This means every team member, regardless of their role, contributes to the business’s image and success.
How do you see your business? Through the eyes of a customer, an owner, or an employee? Balancing these perspectives is key to crafting a winning customer service strategy.
When your message must be memorable, your presentation powerful, and your sales successful, I’m here to help. Do you need help crafting stories for your next speech?
“Patricia Fripp is a miracle worker and an executive’s best resource.” Larraine Segil, Chairman and CEO of the Exceptional Women Awardees Foundation
“Patricia Fripp is amazing. As a speech coach, you’ll never find anyone with her wisdom, experience, and ability.” Bhavin Shah, CEO & Founder