What skills do you need to keep customers engaged?
I have been to a number of conferences over the last few months where almost every speaker that is focused on marketing trends has talked about “customer inclusion” or providing a “remarkable experience” as part of the journey to grow a business in this changing world. The challenge is putting these ideas into action in a business in front of a consumer.
Often owners have no idea of the damage that can be done, often with two simple words.
This was highlighted to me recently when my new car needed its first service. I had an email telling me my car service was due and I contacted the service department to book the service in. I explained that I lived a four-hour drive away and that I was travelling from the airport that was 10 minutes away from their business on a Wednesday and returning on the Saturday afternoon. We agreed they could service the car and I could collect the keys from the showroom the on the Saturday afternoon. I was impressed as this removed a lot of stress and saved me a considerable amount of time.
The day of the service arrived and I travelled the four hours to their business and checked the car in. The person checking me in informed me that I could either collect the car Friday or Monday. I explained the conversation I had had when I made the appointment and was told that this was not possible. I was composed, until I heard the dreaded words, “No problems, you can rent a car and collect your car on Monday” I quickly made the decision that this was not a company I wanted to do business with in the future.
How often when there is a problem as a consumer perceives the situation, have they heard the “no problems” response from the salesperson when all you want is a resolution. The result is these two words just lost you a loyal customer.
It is 51% emotional skills
I have just finished reading the book “Setting the table” by Danny Meyer, the highly successful restaurant owner based in New York. In that book he reveals similar concerns where team members have been unable to engage at the right level with consumers.
If we are to connect and include the consumer he believes that technical competence and knowledge should make up 49% of the skill base and 51% should be emotional skills.
He calls it “Enlightened Hospitality” whether it be in a restaurant or other retail establishment it is crucial to the success of the business.
Emotional skills cannot be taught, these are skills that need to be discovered at an interview. In an interview he looks for five key traits in a potential team member
- An optimistic and warm personality
- A person who is curious to learn more
- Has a good work ethic
- Shows empathy to others
- Is self aware of their own skills and how others react to them
Last month I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Legoland in Denmark. I was told for every 100 people who apply for a job at the park they actually recruit 10.
The interview takes the format of potential recruits playing with Lego and building with the bricks. The aim is to judge their work ethic and if they are curiosity to learn more. The next step is role playing in a business situation to judge self awareness and empathy. The successful applicants are then invited to a formal interview. Those that are successful are given a large bunch of flowers on their first day or work at Legoland and are fully trained before they are allowed to be ambassadors for the business in front of guests.
We live in a “bricks” and “clicks” world. The consumer is looking for a remarkable experience when they go shopping and if they feel they are being processed or the team member is not engaging them they will go shopping somewhere else.
The role of the front team is constantly changing and it may also mean we need to relook at our recruitment and interviewing techniques was well.