“Don’t ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise.”
Lou Holtz, Football Coach
In “Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes,” they tell a story of a well-known entertainer who decided to spend some quiet time in the country many years ago. She rented a small house and hired one of the local farmers to drive her around.
The farmer was more than happy for the extra work and the additional income. On their first outing, the farmer began to tell the celebrity about the history of the area and the local landscape.
“I didn’t ask for commentary,” snapped the woman. “Just drive me where I want to go.”
The farmer obliged without argument. And during the remainder of the entertainer’s visit, the two never exchanged any other words until it was time to settle up.
“What’s this?” cried the entertainer while pointing to an item on the farmer’s invoice.
The farmer looked at the bill. “Sass, $5.00.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“No,” the farmer replied. He went on to remind her of their initial conversation. “You see, I don’t tolerate certain types of behavior from people, but if I have to, then I’m going to charge for it.”
It just goes to show that being pleasant really doesn’t cost you anything. And yet, many people in the customer-service business fail to grasp this simple truth. They fail to be pleasant. Many of them are just plain apathetic, lifeless, and going through the motions. And others are even rude.
By contrast, my wife and I have been on several cruises… some for vacation purposes… and some for teaching our course on marriage enrichment. And we have received incredibly pleasant and professional service from almost everyone in every job.
So I recently asked one cruise line… the Princess Cruise Line… how they do it. And they gave me their “10 Points of Princess Service… to be known, practiced, owned and energized by all our crew members.” I think their points could and should be practiced by every organization. Let’s go through them.
=> 1. “We strive to be the very best.”
“We do the best job we are capable of all the time in every part of the ship. We are proud of what we do.”
I say, “Right on.” You can never allow your employees to “get by” or do a job that is “good enough.” If you allow people to “get by,” you destroy their self-esteem. After all, no one can feel good about himself… or proud of what he does… if he does anything less than his very best.
=> 2. “We act quickly to solve passenger problems.”
“We do everything possible to please our passengers.”
The key word is “quickly.” Most research says your customers will be quite satisfied with your service… and will stay loyal to your brand… even if there are occasional problems… if you act quickly to resolve those problems.
=> 3. “We smile. We are on stage.”
“We always maintain positive eye contact and use our service vocabulary. We greet our passengers. We tell them, ‘Certainly, I will be happy to do so,’ and ‘It will be a pleasure.'”
Wow! Does that ever sound refreshing! In fact, I find the act of smiling, the use of eye contact, and the use of service vocabulary so rare in my daily, customer-service encounters that when I get it, I feel like a king. I feel special, and so do you.
=> 4. “We are friendly, helpful, and courteous.”
“We treat our passengers and our fellow crew members as we would like to be treated.”
Simple enough. It’s the Golden Rule applied to business. I’d love to videotape some of the customer service I’ve received and play it back for those customer service reps and ask them if they were using the Golden Rule. I’d like to ask them if they’d like me to treat them the way they treated me.
=> 5. “We are ambassadors for our ship both at work and at play.”
“We always speak positively and never make negative comments.”
There are lots of people in lots of organizations who violate this rule. In just the last week, the pilot announced on one of my flights that the passengers shouldn’t complain to him about any airplane problems they might have. He had no power to fix anything, and the bosses above him didn’t care anyway. I was flabbergasted that he would speak disparagingly about his company.
If you’re a team leader, supervisor, or manager, I would encourage you to teach your coworkers that EVERY ONE of you is an ambassador for the organization. Each of you is a walking billboard. And as such, no one should ever be cutting down the company in front of customers or potential customers.
=> 6. “Our uniforms are immaculate.”
“We take pride in our personal grooming.”
You wouldn’t think such a simple statement would end up as one of the “10 Points of Princess Service.” Sounds a bit like kindergarten. But I’m afraid we live in a time when some people just don’t seem to know any better. They don’t know how to dress appropriately.
Now before you get all defensive, I’m not suggesting you spend a fortune on clothing, and I’m not advocating lengthy dress codes. But I am saying, when you’re dressed well, you not only look better, feel better, and perform better, you inspire confidence in the customer. They tend to think if you take care of yourself, you’ll probably take care of them.
=> 7. “We are positive.”
“We always find a way to get it done. We never, never give up.”
Bravo! Customers NEED to hear can-do comments coming from their service providers. And they NEED to see can-do behavior in their service providers. So be careful of ever telling your customers what you cannot do. There’s always something you can do for them. Focus on that.
=> 8. “We use proper telephone etiquette.”
“We always try to answer in three rings, and we have a smile in our voice. If necessary, we always ask if we may place customers on hold. We eliminate transfer calls whenever possible.”
Clear enough. I don’t have to add anything to this point.
=> 9. “We are knowledgeable about all ship information.”
Just substitute “all ship information” for “all products and services” in your organization.
Great service providers are more than nice and friendly. They also know something. They know how to answer their customers’ questions.
=> 10. “We never say no.”
“We say, ‘I will be pleased to check.’ We suggest alternatives. We call our supervisor or manager if we feel we cannot satisfy our passengers’ needs.”
Great statement. Of course, you can’t please every customer every time. And you can’t give every customer everything he/she wants. Some requests are just plain impossible, unfair, or unethical. But this tenth point lets you know… that at the very least… the service provider is in your corner. He’s your advocate doing whatever he can to please you.
So there you have it. The “10 Points Of Princess Service.” They’ve wowed me… as have several other cruise lines… time and time again. Of course, they’re not perfect. No organization ever is. But when you hate to get off the ship because you’re treated so well, I think you’re doing a lot of things right.
And that’s my challenge to you. Give your customers the kind of service that is so good that they don’t want to get off your “ship” and go somewhere else.
Action: Take the 10 points to your next team meeting. Decide which 5 points you are “Best At” and which 5 points “Need Improvement.” And decide on a course of action you will take on the “Need Improvement” areas.