leadership dot #2430: positive spin

Many companies offer surveys at the end of a transaction as a way to gather feedback, and often offer the customer a chance to enter into a sweepstakes as an incentive to participate. The SurveyMonkey Contribute app has added their own twist to this and allows clients to spin a wheel and instantly learn whether or not they have won a prize.

As with most contests, the majority of spins don’t yield a win, but SurveyMonkey Contribute has found a way to make the experience fun in spite of that. The wheel features pictures of fruit and each corresponds to a clever way of saying “you lost”. Examples include: “Cherries are the Pits” and “Goodness Grapes”. (I believe the winners can “Go Bananas” – but I have not personally experienced it!)

How can you take an ordinary survey – or form or registration — and put a positive spin on it? Even those who don’t win will leave with a smile.

leadership dot #2424: pinky swear

I had trouble ordering something on Tom’s website and so I sent an email to customer service to resolve the issue. “We’re closed now,” it said. “But we’ll get back to you soon – pinky swear.”

I thought it was a clever way to sign their message but apparently, their “pinky swear” meant about as much as it did in grade school — as I never received a reply.

Consumers can handle almost anything you throw at them – delays, price increases, being closed – but people don’t do well with unkept promises.

Forget the cuteness and just align your messaging and expectations with reality. A promise made should be a promise kept, no pinky required.

leadership dot #2379: wrapped

Last Christmas, I thwarted my nephew’s plans to only use gift bags and instead I wrapped all of his presents as he watched in amazement at how I effortlessly measured the paper and crinkled the ribbon. We disguised some of the obvious gifts but there was really nothing special about my tasks even though he was as impressed as if I had done sleight of hand magic.

This year, I have noticed how – even though it is so close to Christmas – the stores are still stocked full of wrapping paper rolls. I fear that wrapping of gifts is becoming a lost art, just as the sending of handwritten cards has given way to photo cards or no cards at all and the choosing of personal presents is increasingly being replaced with the exchange of gift cards.

Gift bags can be beautiful but pulling something out of a bag is not nearly the experience of unwrapping a present whereas wrapped gifts can become works of art in and of themselves (as this picture attests). A circle of gift bags under the tree does not have the same nostalgia or cache as a stack of presents all festively decorated and lovingly wrapped.

Use the packaging of gifts as an analogy for the service your organization provides. Are you offering the basics (aka a gift bag), are you taking an extra step to wrap the present tied with a bow or are you going above and beyond to wow your customers with your presentation? As others gravitate toward quick and easy, a little extra attention on your part can unwrap unseen opportunities for your organization’s image.

leadership dot #2355: contrast

Black Friday was like a graduate course in customer service – providing lessons on how to do it well and definitely a primer on what not to do. I usually don’t partake in the madness, but a friend’s desire for that one certain Early Bird Special found me waiting outside in line at 5:45am, and once you’re up, well…

My gold seal goes to Lowe’s and Menard’s. Lowe’s had free donuts, coffee and hot chocolate for the hearty shoppers and randomly gave out free gift cards which reduced our bill by $105! Menard’s knew they would be busy and prepared for it – having all hands on deck to direct traffic to the checkout lines, setting up ad hoc registers to aid in processing and having staff all throughout the store available to help customers locate items in the ad. The parking lot was literally overflowing onto the frontage road but we waited in line less time at Menard’s than any other establishment.

Contrast that with JoAnn’s which had spectacular coupons and one (yes, one) cashier. The line literally was to the back of the store to check out and a similar size line cued up to first have the fabric cut. I did a U-turn as soon as I walked in. The Red Cross blood donation center was reminiscent of JoAnn’s – even though there had been multiple commercials urging people to donate, they had to turn people away due to inadequate staffing to handle any of the influx in volume. Kohl’s, too, had great coupons and literally an hour long wait in line to use them. While they had all their registers open, unlike Menard’s they limited themselves to the existing terminals instead of utilizing customer service, temporary registers or hand-held devices.

While Black Friday may not be the frenzy that it once was, there still was a noticeable uptick in the number of people in the stores. It was an opportunity for retailers not only to make some quick sales but to make an impression on shoppers who may not normally frequent their business. Some stores took this seriously and made it an experience to remember while others did more harm than good.

Spending resources to promote your organization without a proportionate investment in staffing is worse than doing nothing. If you incentivize business, be prepared to conduct it.

leadership dot #2347: interpreter

I received a pamphlet with my dental insurance bill informing me that if I had questions, I could call a number and receive assistance. What made it catch my eye is that it offered help in 15 different languages.

I wouldn’t think that Delta Dental of Iowa would provide language access services in Arabic, Hindi, Karen, Korean, Laotian, Pennsylvania Dutch, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese, but interpreters are available without charge for these languages and more. It is a great service for customers, free of charge.

While you may not be able to provide such a broad range of interpreters, is there something you can do to assist those who do not speak English? Perhaps you can provide materials in one or two other languages, provide a FAQ list in multiple languages or collect the names of your staff and key volunteers who could assist in translation.

True service is delivered in a language that can be understood.

leadership dot #2311: ill-will

I recently attempted to eat dinner at a restaurant but was greeted with this sign on the door: “Due to staffing issues only our drive-thru will be open for the rest of the night.” Inconvenient to be sure, but I had won a prize from the restaurant that I wanted to use so back to my car I went to pull around.

At the drive-thru, I learned that the $10 gift certificate that I won from their contest was when the franchise was under a different manager and the prize would not be honored. So I moved on to Plan C, only to find my coupon didn’t work either as their “mixed chicken” did not mix chicken and tenders (which is what my friend wanted). At that point, I opted for the three-strikes-you’re-out theory and left without ordering anything.

After my experience at the drive-thru, I am not surprised that they had staffing issues or turnover in their management. If leadership doesn’t show consideration or provide good service to customers, I suspect it carries over to how they treat employees. Or maybe it is the reverse: because the management doesn’t treat employees well, maybe that is why the staff doesn’t treat customers well. Either way, it is a recipe for ill-will and operational decline. No matter how tasty the food, if the people aren’t good it doesn’t matter.


leadership dot #2291: beetle

In The Culture Code, author Daniel Coyle recounts the story of when Senator Bob Kerrey ate at one of the Union Park restaurants owned by famed restaurateur Danny Meyer. Inexplicably, the salad of Kerry’s guest had a bug nestled in the lettuce.

The next day, Kerrey was at another of Meyer’s restaurants and his salad came out with a small piece of paper that said: “Ringo”. The waiter told Kerrey: “Danny wanted to make sure you knew that Gramercy Tavern wasn’t the only one of his restaurants that’s willing to garnish your salad with a Beatle.”

And now, all these many years later, the story lives on – not as an example of how horrible the restaurant was to have bugs, but rather how well the incident was handled.

Things will go wrong. The question is whether your clients will be talking about your beetle or your Beatle in response.

Source: The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle, 2018, p. 202.