I remember joking a few years back that I was getting a little tired of hearing “My pleasure” at various places of business. At the time, there was a book out about how Ritz Carlton hotels maintained superior customer satisfaction scores.
And one of the Ritz Carlton philosophies was (is) that whenever a guest asks for assistance or said, “Thank you,” an employee shouldn’t reply with a commonly heard refrain such as, “No problem.”
Ritz Carlton team members were instead trained to say, “It’s my pleasure.”
Many managers out there apparently heard this and figured, “Aha! If my people say that, we’ll have Ritz Carlton-like service scores, as well.”
Soon, I was regularly hearing, “My pleasure” from any number of service providers as I traveled. However, it was as often as not said (mumbled) in a manner and tone that suggested anything but a person actually enjoying what they were doing.
Before long, “It’s my pleasure” pretty much sounded like “No problem” to my ears.
But truth be told, I never had an issue with a service provider telling me, “No problem,” when I asked for something. Hey, if they were smiling and friendly, whatever refrain came out of their mouths sounded better than a forced, canned response.
This came to mind last week while I was on vacation with my family at the Disney parks in Orlando. Disney still does a better job than just about any large operation at providing consistently impressive personal service.
In 8 days, I know I must have personally interacted with a couple hundred employees – from hotel staff to bus drivers to restaurant staff to the janitorial crew (don’t ask).
I found that the most positive interactions we had were not tied to the level of the employee or even the specific service provided. Everyone wears similar uniforms. Most also follow management-suggested dialogue when interacting with you.
But some “cast members” still stand out more than others. Their demeanors convey that they are happy to have visitors – with or without speaking words.
And feeling welcomed and appreciated are two customer satisfaction factors that resonate.
The words we speak matter. The manner in which we speak them matters just as much.
Remember today that your demeanor may communicate more than your words to your team - and your customers.
When it was announced three years ago that my adopted hometown of Sugar Land, TX was getting a minor league baseball team, I was one of the first in line for season tickets, even though we aren’t a “baseball family.”
During the “Skeeters” season, it’s one of the few times that my family will sit side-by-side for several hours at a time.
And while I have to bribe the kids with ballpark food, it still usually borders on “quality time.”
As we took our seats recently, I couldn’t help but notice three baseball scouts with radar guns sitting two rows behind us. I told my younger son, “Okay, someone is pitching for a contract tonight.”
As I scanned my program, I heard a rifle-shot sound in the catcher’s mitt in front of us. The opposing pitcher was warming up. Yup, this is whom the scouts were here to see.
Our pitcher is a good kid, but is struggling with a high ERA and losing record.
Our guys actually got a hit off their ace in the first inning, but then nothing for another 5 innings. Then, as the 6th inning started, I looked up and asked aloud, “Hey, has our guy given up a hit yet?” Several folks around us scanned the board and looked at each other. One even asked a scout.
Our man, the “other” pitcher, had a no hitter going.
The atmosphere soon changed. Chatting fans became chanting fans.
The leftfielder made a Sports Center-esque diving catch in the 6th. The third baseman pulled off a circus move in the 7th to snare a line drive. The entire team was motivated.
And the reason no-hitters are so rare is that, well, they’re hard to do. Our guy eventually gave up a hit in the middle of the 8th inning.
Rattled, he soon gave up a homerun, as well. He lost his no-hitter, his shutout, and his chance at a win.
As he walked off the mound with his head down, he received a long and loud standing ovation. My younger son asked, “This is sad. Why are people clapping?”
I told him because that guy deserves it. Sometimes you give everything you have, and it still doesn’t turn out the way you’d like. But people wanted the guy to know they appreciate the fact that he may have pitched the game of his life.
Some days, a person’s best efforts may not bring the results he (or you) hoped for. But recognizing those efforts makes it more likely that you’ll see his best efforts again in the future.
Whose efforts are you recognizing today?