"Here is what we're going to do today!"
"Here is what we're going to do today!" I had lunch this week with an HR friend and that is exactly what the waiter proclaimed as he stepped up to our table. We didn't get the customary, and expected, questions like, "Have you had time to look at the menu?", "Do you want to hear about our specials today?" and "Are you ready to order?" No...Carlos was different. Carlos was large (actually medium build) and in charge. He only asked us if we wanted beef, chicken or seafood. Once we gave him the protein, he took it from there. He assured us that we'd enjoy our meal and that if we didn't like it - no harm, no foul - we wouldn't pay for it and he'll make us something else. I still have no idea what I ate that day, but it was great!
Carlos owned the customer experience.
I spent four years with Pizza Hut, which is part of Yum! Brands, so I know a Customer Maniac when I see one. This was not a Yum! Brands restaurant, so I don't know if I'd go so far as to call him a Customer Maniac, but he was all about customer service that day.
Yum! Brands is traditionally known for having solid customer service, strong processes and outstanding operations (they were, after all, born out of Pepsi). One of the best operators I had the pleasure of working with did a fantastic job of owning the customer experience. As the Operations leader for the San Diego market, Albert took it upon himself to create a parody video on the question we all get asked at the end of most fast food/quick service transactions - "Anything else?" In his mind, this question was taboo and completely contradicts good, old fashioned suggestive selling. So he decided to have some fun with it and got his managers involved in creating a video that highlighted the value proposition of "Anything else?" and actually attached a price to it (I think it was $5.99). The video was creative, it was funny and it was spot on. He was able to get the entire market galvanized around this notion that you're losing sales, leaving money on the table and essentially not doing right by the customer when you suggest "anything else". Albert understood what it means to own the customer experience.
What are you doing to own the customer experience?
All of us have customers we serve, sell to and interact with every day, regardless of our function, our title, our level in the organization and where we fit in the org chart. Internal customers, external customers, vendors, suppliers...we all have customers. What are you doing to own the customer experience? Instead of letting it drive you, what are you doing to to make a difference? How are you differentiating your product or your service from the competition? Carlos made a difference. If and when I'm back in the area, you can bet that I'll be eating there again. I'm not sure what I'll be eating (I'll let him decide), but that's part of the experience.