We Need more Freds (and Jasons)

Awhile ago, I introduced you to Jason, a Service Star I know.   In a comment on that blog, a reader referenced the book “The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn. Well, I finally got around to reading it this weekend and if you haven’t read it yet, take the time.  (Thanks Paul!).  It’s a quick read and a great reminder of the importance of service.

For those of you that haven’t read it, the author and speaker introduced us to his letter carrier Fred and the exceptional service he provides.  The passion and commitment to service that Fred provides is an inspiration to us all. (Hmm … considering that my service star, Jason works for Canada Post, perhaps the phrase “going postal” should be viewed in a positive light?!)

There are many nuggets of wisdom in the book. Here are four of my take-aways.

1. Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional.  It’s easy to blame our lack of motivation or sincere desire to provide the best service possible on others.  Perhaps you’ve heard or said the following:

  • My boss doesn’t like me.   He’s got his favourites and I’m not one of them.
  • The company doesn’t care, so why should I?
  • Customers are rude; they treat me like their servant.
  • I’m just working here while I put myself through school. Then I’m getting a real job.

In those situations, do you choose to perform to bare minimum or extremely well? Do you choose to make someone else’s day just a little bit better, or not?  Do you choose to care about the individual, instead of what they can do for you?

Some circumstances may make exceptional more difficult to achieve, or on the other side, may make it that much easier for you to be the exceptional one, but either way, nobody can take away your choice to be exceptional except you.

2. Everyone makes a difference.  Not only does everyone make a difference, people want to believe they make a difference.  Every person in your company is a part of the company’s success or failure.   There are too many people who use the words “I’m just” when describing what they do.  There are too many people who feel that because they are not a supervisor, a manager, or the “big boss” they are less important.

Housekeeping, front desk, bussers, cooks, servers, supervisors and general managers are all important.  When is the last time you thanked and acknowledged someone for their very important contribution to your customer’s experience?  Tell somebody today.

3. Create personal value.  Creating value is not about spending more money; it’s about focusing on the small, personal touches that create relationships.  The “wow” of a big screen TV lasts only a very short time and probably won’t bring a lot of referrals your way.  The “wow” created by a sincere “I’m glad you choose to stay with us” will last longer. Imagine the value created if every one of your team members smiled every time they saw a customer and greeted that customer with a good morning or good afternoon and wished them a good day.

It’s also important to create personal value with your internal customers.  Get to know your team members personally. When I was starting out in the hotel industry, I had a general manager who knew the names of every person on his team.  Every day, he walked the hotel. He asked the housekeepers how they and their families were doing and he listened to their answers.  He stopped at the front desk, the restaurant and regularly visited the banquet department and kitchen to find out how their day was going and to share a laugh.

4. If you want a team of Freds, it starts with you.  You can’t force someone to be a Fred.  Instead be the example. Be enthusiastic, be committed, be passionate and be exceptional and invite the people you lead and work with to come along for the ride.

In a nutshell … being a service provider may  not be glamorous, but it is noble.  Service providers with a passion for what they do and who they serve have an opportunity to make people feel valued, cared for and important. Their smile, their commitment to exceptional and their genuine interest in the well-being of others create feelings of goodwill more valuable and lasting than any big screen TV or other amenity money can buy.

3 thoughts on “We Need more Freds (and Jasons)

      • Yes it is, the sad side of this is that many people really believe that they are prevented by some reason, force or person to accept that they can act on their own. Thanks for the great information and have a wonderful evening.

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