Creating Moments of Magic

A moment of magic can bring an eternity of profit.

One of my favorite speakers is Mike McKinley. I enjoy his humor, and I learn from his wisdom.

As a high school kid, Mike had a small garbage business. Sometimes his father would drive him from house to house as Mike picked up the garbage.

On one of those occasions, his Dad yelled at him, “Pick up that garbage out in the yard.”

Mike yelled back, “They don’t pay me to pick up garbage in the yard.”

His Dad, a rather large man, bolted out of the truck, and with his nose six inches from Mike’s, he said, “Sometimes you don’t get paid for what you do at the time you do it. Now get out there and pick up that garbage.

Customer service is a lot like that. You do some things for the customer because it’s the right thing to do — whether or not you get an immediate payback.

Mike said he was surprised sometime later when the owner of the garbage-strewn yard looked him up. He gave Mike a nice tip and a hearty “Thank you” for cleaning up his yard.

Customer service is also a lot like that. When you do more than you said you were going to do, the customer tends to remember. And the customer tends to reward you in some way or other. He may continue to do business with you, talk about you in the most complimentary way, or any number of other activities.

I’ve given you three strategies during the last couple of “Tuesday Tips” on how you can create similar customer enthusiasm. Let me give you a couple of extra powerful strategies this week.

Fourth, SERVE UP AN ATTITUDE. Whatever your product or service, I presume it is a quality product or service. But face it; there are lots of quality products and services in the marketplace. Your competitors can give you a healthy run for your money.

What your competitors can’t do, however, is duplicate your exact attitude. They can’t add the precise personal touch that you can add. And if your attitude stands out as especially attractive, the customers will remember you.

Now you may not want to hear that. You may think your product or service speaks for itself. You may think you don’t need any of this “touchy-feely, mumbo jumbo attitude crap.” That’s what one of my audiences said.

As I pushed them to take a good hard look at their service, they told me, “Look, we’re no worse than anybody else.” I thought to myself, “What a wonderful advertising slogan — ‘We’re no worse than anybody else.’ That should really draw in the customers.”

Fortunately, I was able to get through their defensiveness. I helped them see the importance of attitude and how it would add to their bottom line. They ended up with a lot more success with their customers and a lot more profit.

If you work with people, what are you doing to make sure your attitude is a positive one? Does your attitude impress customers, or does it turn them off?

And if you manage people, what are you doing to help your people develop a positive attitude? And what are you doing to ensure their attitude stays positive? If you’re leaving it to chance, you might as well be flushing some of your profits down the toilet.

It’s weird. Some organizations have focused all their energy on lowering prices, but they haven’t learned how to raise their attitudes. I sometimes think they should hang a sign that says, “We give lousy service, but we’re cheap.” At least that would be truth in advertising.

The more enlightened companies are starting to “get” it. They’re starting to realize that they may have been hiring the wrong way. They were hiring people with skill but they were overlooking the attitude of their new hires.

Disney changed all that. They said it was easier to give someone a skill than an attitude. Disney said hire for attitude — and then train for skill.

Are you doing that? You need your customers to be impressed by the positive, professional attitude of your employees. You need your customers to feel good about the quality of your product, and you need your customers to talk about the quality of the service they received.

If you’re finding it to be a bit of a challenge to maintain such a positive attitude, or if your team members need a rejuvenation of their attitude, I recommend my CD on attitude.

A fifth strategy for customer enthusiasm has to do with CREATING MOMENTS OF MAGIC. It has to do with creating impressions that far exceed the customers’ expectations. It’s going for the “wow.”

Quite simply, any time a customer comes into contact with any aspect of your business, he forms an impression of your business. Jan Carlzon, former CEO of SAS Airlines, called those impressions “moments of truth.” Those impressions or “moments of truth,” Carlzon noted, can excite or ignite your customers. They can build or destroy your business.

For example, when a customer walks through your work area, do they see cluttered desks, unfilled work orders, and dusty plants? Or do they see a neat and clean work area with quick and easy procedures?

I remember two very different situations. One was a hospital where I was speaking. Perhaps I’m prejudiced, but I expect a hospital to be the epitome of cleanliness. I saw overflowing trash bins in the hallways, greasy smudge marks on the walls, and lots of extra “junk” piled in the corners. It was a “moment of truth, and I knew I wouldn’t want to go there if I was sick.

By contrast, one of my clients, ABC Bus, has seven locations across the country where they sell and repair buses. I expected their shops to be like most mechanical shops I’ve seen–fairly greasy, dirty, and slippery.

Not at all! Their shops are so amazingly clean you could literally go there, all dressed up, sit on the floor and eat your brown bag lunch, and feel totally comfortable. Their professionalism sparkles. And for me, it was a “Moment of Magic.”

You need to find out what your customers expect to see when they come into contact with your business. Exceed those expectations, and you will create an enthusiastic customer who will be touched by your “Moment of Magic.”

Phil Romano used that same strategy to turn his little out-of-the-way Italian restaurant into the powerful Macaroni Grill chain. He knew that Monday and Tuesday nights were the slowest nights in the restaurant business. In fact they were often profit-losing nights.

So once a month, on a randomly chosen Monday or Tuesday night, the customers got a letter instead of a bill. His letter said Macaroni’s mission was to make people feel like guests, so it seemed awkward to charge guests for having a good time. Their meal was on the house. He gave them a “Moment of Magic.”

What were the results? By giving away one free night of meals each month, he reduced his revenue by 3.3%. But he had a full house on the eight nights of the month his place was normally empty.

Of course, word-of-mouth testimonials are the best advertisements you can get. In a short time, Romano had hundreds of people saying, “You can’t believe what happened to me last night.”

Go out there and surprise your customers.

Action:  Ask ten of your customers what they expect to see when they encounter various aspects of your business. Then find one or two ways to give them more than they expect — to give them “Moments of Magic” that linger in their memories and encourage their repeat business