Seth McColley Headline Animator

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The End of the Innocence

We're going to see a lot of pictures of the World Trade Center and images from September 11, 2001 this week. Most of us have these images seared into our minds, and hearts, so they are not easily forgotten. I received this photo from a good friend of mine a couple of years after the attacks brought the towers down. He had taken this shot himself on one of his trips to New York City. This is how I like to remember September 11th...what the world looked like through September 10, 2001. 

Let us never forget...

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Here is what we're going to do today!"

Image Credit: talesfromthetower.co.uk                                                                       
"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. 

Anything Else?

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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Motivational Message - Be the Pig!

A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road. The Chicken says, "Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!". Pig replies, "Hm, maybe, what would we call it?". The Chicken responds, "How about 'ham-n-eggs'?".

The Pig thinks for a moment and says, "No thanks. I'd be committed, but you'd only be involved!"
This weekend I was reminded of this important leadership lesson about commitment when my daughter and her friend decided to set up a lemonade stand. Not completely sold on the idea, I quickly realized that I was no match for two very determined and enterprising nine-year old girls. I threw up a few barriers - we don't have any lemonade (you can go buy some), it's over 100 degrees outside (people will be hot and thirsty, so they'll want our lemonade), we don't have a lemonade sign (we'll make flyers) - but I finally succumbed to the pressure and decided to play along. Who am I to crush their entrepreneurial spirit? Did I mention that it was over 100 degrees?

So we (how and why is this now my project?) were underway - I was procuring the lemonade and they were busy creating marketing material (see the beautiful flyer to the left). We set up shop at the end of the block, set out a couple of chairs, poured a few glasses of lemonade and waited for the masses. Did I mention that it was over 100 degrees?

About five minutes in, I did a gut check to see if they were still "in it to win it" and I could already sense the defeat in one of them. My daughter, however, gave me the thumb's up. 

They didn't last 30 minutes.

Did I mention that it was over 100 degrees?

After we closed up shop and walked back to the house, I taught my daughter about the Chicken and the Pig. Her first reaction was, "but it was her idea!" (referring to her friend). Not the point. I was really trying to teach her about commitment and let her know that I was proud of her for sticking with the project, despite my early objections, the heat and the fact that they only sold two glasses of lemonade. I gave them an early out and she chose to see it through. 

The money quote of the day was when I asked her what she learned and she replied, "it's a lot of hard work running your own business!" Mission. Accomplished.

Think about yourself and the kind of leader you are. Are you involved, interested or lukewarm? Or are you committed, engaged or on fire? 

Be the Pig!

PS - thanks to some "angel investors" in our neighborhood, the girls made $15 but only sold two cups of $.25 lemonade.Not necessarily a lesson in reality, but it sure made their day!