Out of The Box

January 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Out Of The Box

with Mary Anne Street

There’s a great little gem of a book called The Customer Comes Second  by Hal Rosenbluth.  At first glance you think the guy is absolutely nutty to be writing a book with a title like this, but if you read the book, you realize that he really has the key to it all. His premise is that if you treat your employees well, great service will follow. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Happy employees have greater enthusiasm, a good attitude, give the extra effort, contribute extra in a pinch; AND they provide great customer service because they believe in and love their company. As Rosenbluth puts it, “put your people first and watch them kick butt.”

Part of the reason why I absolutely love my job is that my employers are terrific.  They provide small “perks” to us all to oil the gears and build relationship equity.  We sometimes have pizza for no reason; we often get invited to attend the Tourism Council and Chamber events that require payments and tickets; they treat us to lunches and dinners at some of our best area restaurants. (Today TVR is providing a cake for an employee with a birthday.) They send us to conventions that provide new ideas and tools to help us accomplish great service. We have the best equipment and the newest systems available to do our jobs. For our end of the summer event, we all went bowling — what a hoot and we had a great time. These are the things that make for reasons to want to come to work and to give it our all.

Don’t get me wrong, we still get frustrated, get irritated, get mad at times, but the relationship equity that is built up helps us through those trying times, and we emerge still strong.

How do you treat your employees? Do you appreciate them? Do you find ways to “oil the gears?” Just like Mr. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol, giving a little extra throughout the year, treating your employees with kindness, and valuing their contributions make employees want to do a good job and go the extra mile.

Ah, but it takes money! Indeed it does, but think of it as an investment in service; by making your employees a priority and treating them well, you invest in your company, just in a little different way, and I guarantee that the money you spend this way will be far more effective than some of the other ways you invest your funds.

And speaking of service, there is another gem of a book called Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct  by Pier Massimo Forni.  Forni felt that the world was becoming uncivil, populated with rude people; people who were short, uncaring, not courteous, having a poor attitude, and so forth, and he believed something had to be done to try and correct the situation, so he wrote the book. He says that as a professor, he not only wanted to give lectures on literature, but he also wanted to teach students to be kind human beings.  He launched the book six years ago, and it has changed his life. The book has sold 100,000 copies and has become the focus of seminars and reading groups in communities nationwide. Several schools have made the subject of civility part of their curriculum. The goal is to provide a civil climate in the schools that then will carry on into students’ lives. Inner-city students and prisoners have also been part of forums for discussions and outreach projects in civility.

Forni’s rules, which fit on a bookmark, make civility seem attainable. In short, they are: “Pay attention,” “Speak kindly,” and “Respect others’ opinions.” (There are 22 others, but these sum them all up.) The author himself hands out magnets that say, “Choose Civility” to remind people that when they are dealing with a challenging customer, it’s good to think and act “civilly.”

That’s great advice. We all are faced with what I call, “poopy people” and our knee jerk response is to get defensive and get our ire up. That, of course, will do nothing but produce a bunch of “poopiness.” Behavior is catching, and if you keep your cool, and practice civility, chances are their demeanor will settle, and they will become at least a little more civil.

Of course, there’s no magic fairy dust to MAKE people civil—if they choose to be uncivil you can’t change it, but you can choose how YOU react, and Forni asks that you choose civility. Great words for this new year.

Until next time,
Mary Anne

Mary Anne Street lives on Tybee Island with her husband, The Tybee Handyman, and works as concierge for Tybee Vacation Rentals.  For more information about vacation rentals or othe other wonderful things Tybee has to offer, contact Mary Anne at tybeeconcierge@tybeevacationremtals.com

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