by Bruce Hodes, CEO of CMI Teamwork Chicago and author of “Front Line Heroes“
Our planning session was occurring and there he was. A Hilton employee quietly entered with copies in his hand. He was the red headed front desk guy who told me he would make copies. My plan was during the break to go and pick them up, and then there he was. Bright, cheerful, and bringing added value. That put him and the San Diego Hilton Garden Mission Valley on the fast track to being my favorite hotel.
He was nice.
The taxi was green… it stands out in my memory as green is my favorite color. He was early for my six o’clock departure and efficient as the bag ended up in the trunk. I made a call and then we talked. He was very much a perfect cab driver. Car was clean and a Prius. As I exited at the airport, he fist bumped me, gave me his card, and told me to call when needed. I will.
He was nice.
It’s five in the morning, I am downstairs at the Double Tree in a foreign land. The sign says coffee from the coffee maker $2.00 a cup. I get a cup and go to work at the bar. Sandy haired middle-aged night desk clerk comes up and says “coffee on me sir. I cannot stand that you must pay”. I say, “it’s free at other Hilton properties” and he says, “but not here; you are a good customer and you must pay”. Then he said, “not with me you don’t”. Now that is being nice, and he and his hotel just won my heart…
In these cases, the men involved impacted me in a positive way. They left me feeling open to doing business with them in the future and feeling good about our interactions. It all impacts, and they were just being nice to me. I have at least a hundred service interactions a week, so do you and most of them are bland and unmemorable, some are nasty and negative and the few, the exceptions, like the above are sublime.
This dining establishment has the great location. It has some notoriety and fame. Right by an aircraft carrier with jet fighters on its deck, right on the bay with water views. It has ambiance promoting itself as the primo Fish Market with glass cases full of big slabs of red, white, and off-white slabs of fish meat. Hostess was proficient, server was benign and capable. Food fresh and an okay meal.
The meal I had was not special, and no one looked like they were particularly out to make it special. As I reflect about it, there really is no need to go back. Been there and done that. There will be no next time. This experience – not so nice.
I am late, step into the cab during rush hour and ask to go to 40 University. “You can walk”, the cab driver says. “I know but I might be late”, I say. He harrumphs, mumbles something like he loses his place in line and off we go. His attitude continues and then he wants to know when I am going to the airport. He has no idea that given who he is being the consideration for the $70.00 airport ride is not going well. IT ALL IMPACTS, and he was not nice…
This next example is not directly about service and does make the same point. Ten after 8:00 a.m. and silence surrounded the conference table as the ten people looked at their phones and laptops. Looking around blank faces as no one knew where he was….Where was Nick? They all worked together for years. “Can someone text him?” I asked. No one could because no one had his cell phone number.
No word from Nick and that is the issue. Suddenly he arrives…bearded, buff, “sorry” he said and that was it. There was no apology for not reaching out or being in communication that he was going to be late – how rude. Children, traffic, circumstances were ruling the day and he was a victim. Now we could start with 10 minutes of everyone’s time gone. We have all been in meetings like that. It all impacts…. Not being in communication impacts – it all impacts, and he was not being nice though on the surface he was being nice. Pretense nice – not nice…
So, what does this mean? Well, the good news is regarding service, being nice works and engenders customer loyalty. Being nice is easy – just be nice… Being nice is rare in service interactions and therefore a secret weapon. Try being extra, extra, extra nice the next time you give service. See what happens. Write us and let us know. Now that would be nice and have an impact!
Since growing up in his family’s boating business to founding his company CMI, Bruce Hodes has dedicated himself to helping companies grow by developing executive leadership teams, business leaders and executives into powerful performers. Bruce’s adaptable Breakthrough Strategic Business Planning methodology has been specifically designed for small-to-mid-sized companies and is especially valuable for family company challenges. In February of 2012 Bruce published his first book “Front Line Heroes“.