Service Minded: The Irving Principle

This is part of a series highlighting the 12 Excellent Service Principles.

The Irving Principle
Get clear on why you are successful.

The Vienna Beef Co. had a problem after they moved into their brand new production center in the Chicago area. Even with 40 years of experience, something was wrong - their hot dogs didn't taste the same. Same spices, same process, different taste. They spent 18 months researching the problem and discovered it was Irving's fault. Their previous plant was a cobbled together chain of old manufacturing buildings in Chicago. Irving was the man who pushed the cart of cold, newly formed hot dogs 30-minutes across the plant to the next step in the process. This trip was unnecessary in the new plant because the two steps were right next to each other for efficiency purposes. The only problem was that Irving's 30-minute walk allowed the dogs to warm up. This proved to be a critical step in creating their signature taste.

The Vienna Beef Co. had enjoyed success for years, but wasn't totally clear on why. Great customer service organizations are infatuated with learning why customers keep coming back. This, obviously, is a major reason why they do.  They understand it, embrace it, train against it and continually adjust for it.

Up next, the Fresh Air Principle - Ask Great Questions...


Service Minded: The Tony Bennett Principle

This is part of a series highlighting the 12 Excellent Service Principles.

The Tony Bennett Principle
Have a veteran's expertise and a novice's energy.

A common affliction in the world of dealing with customers is atrophy of the attitude. We used to be excited to see customers, but with age/time/experience/challenges/etc. comes a dampened enthusiasm for work and customer interaction. The great standards singer, Tony Bennett, was once asked how he continually gives great performances after years of singing the same songs. He says that even though he has sung I Left My Heart in San Francisco thousands of times live, he imagines (and knows for a fact) that many of his audience members have never seen him sing it live. This allows him to have the energy and presence of a novice even though he has the years and expertise of a veteran. Apply Tony's lesson to your world and treat the 4,056th customer with the same spark and freshness you gave to the first.

Up Next, the Irving Principle - Gain Clarity on What Makes You Successful...


Service Minded: The Platinum Rule Principle

This is part of a series highlighting the 12 Excellent Service Principles.

Platinum Rule Principle
Do unto others like they'd like done unto them.

Fellow speaker and leadership consultant, Tony Alessandra, took the golden rule and added some leadership value to it.  He created the Platinum Rule - Do unto others as they'd like done unto them.  Although very important, the golden rule is rooted in " me first - you second thinking".  It states that I will treat you like I want to be treated.  The platinum rule takes the me out of the equation.  It says that I will treat you like you want to be treated because I have taken the time to learn about you and find out how you want to be treated. It is the ultimate act of leadership (being service-minded) and great customer service.

A few ways customer service professionals operate from the Platinum Rule are:  being more aware of others, mirroring body language to put the other person at ease, asking questions to learn about each customer's unique situation, etc.

Personalize.  Customize.  Humanize.

Up next, the Tony Bennett Principle - Have a Veteran's Expertise and a Novice's Energy...


Service Minded: The Open Space Principle

This is part of a series highlighting the 12 Excellent Service Principles.

Open Space Principle
Build on what works.

A marriage counselor was working with an overly negative woman. She had a laundry list of her husband's faults and would focus on them every session. The counselor eventually mandated that the woman only say positive things about her spouse during the sessions. This continued for weeks until the counselor knew the lady was ready to be taught a very important lesson.

The counselor asked the lady to draw a circle on a paper and place a dot in it for every one of her husband's faults (she still remembered them). After a few moments she was asked to look into the circle and write down the first word that came to mind. She said dots. The counselor then pulled out the two lists of her husband's traits - positives and negatives. The positives list was longer and the lady was floored. She looked in the circle and only saw dots (the negatives) even though there were more positives (open space).  She has been looking at her husband and only seeing negatives even though he has many more positives. She didn't need to fix what was wrong with her husband as much as she needed to fix her own habit of only focusing on the negatives.

Great customer service has a foundation of building on what works, internally and externally, and spreading those strategies, tactics, concepts, policies and behaviors across the system. You can't fix every problem, foresee every challenge or make the customer experience perfect.  You can create a culture where your team actively chooses to take what is working and maximize it to the point where the negatives almost become irrelevant.  (Almost...)

Up next, the Platinum Rule Principle - Do unto others like they'd like done unto them...


Service Minded: The Chicken Little Principle

This is part of a series highlighting the 12 Excellent Service Principles.

Chicken Little Principle
Emphasize the positive.

Chicken Little's famous phrase is "the sky is falling." Chicken Littles in the real world are those people who brighten the room when they leave the room. There is no place in great customer service for intentionally negative people. Service to others many times begins with taking a negative situation, a challenging conversation or a seemingly unsolvable problem and approaching it with a sense of optimism and a positive attitude. Get better at helping others by starting with and emphasizing the positive before you deal with or in lieu of focusing on the negative.

Up next, The Open Space Principle - Build on what works...


Service Minded: The 7-Iron Principle

This is part of a series highlighting the 12 Excellent Service Principles.

7-iron Principle
Excellent service is elemental.

A few years ago a neighbor of mine was having trouble learning to play golf. He was trying to learn how to hit every club on the driving range. I told him to take two weeks and only practice with two clubs:

  • The putter - because half of your score comes from putting.
  • The 7-iron - because it is relatively easy to hit and the basic golf swing is a 7-iron swing with either a longer or shorter club in your hand.
He came back a week later and was ecstatic with his immediate success. Teaching the muscles to hit a 7-iron 150 yards and straight is an effective method for any beginning golfer to get a fast start to mastering other clubs and, at some point, the game of golf. 

Great customer service is the 7-iron of success in any organization that deals heavily with people. Once those lessons are learned and mastered, many other keys to greatness (teamwork, creativity, problem solving, etc.) have a fighting chance to grow and flourish.

Up next, The Chicken Little Principle - Emphasize the Positive...


Service Minded: The 12 Excellent Service Principles

Today marks the beginning of a 12-part series on great customer service. These posts apply specifically to any leader who interacts with customers (clients, shoppers, students, audience members, etc.), but is also relevant to anyone who would like to improve his or her people skills and build stronger relationships. The best leaders are those who operate from a base of service mindedness. How can I help you? How can I make your day better? What do you need from me so you can do your job more effectively? These are the questions guiding the service minded leader through the day. These 12 principles will illuminate what lives on the other side of those questions.

We begin tomorrow...