Sunday, March 21, 2010

Have Fun, But!

For the last year, I have been getting my haircut at a well known national haircut chain. I get a decent hair cut at a reasonable price. While I don't expect a lot in the way of customer service, the experience I had this past week was somewhat disappointing.

I walked in late in the afternoon. There was one customer in the store and she was just leaving. As she left the girl at the counter checked me in by taking my name. As I took a seat, she informed me that it would be just a couple of minutes. She then went off to sweep the floor.
As I sat there, the only customer in the store, one other girl was counting her tips and the other two were chasing each other around the store trying to untie their aprons.

I sat there for about five minutes and was about to walk out of the store when one of the girls finally came up and invited me back to get my hair cut. As we were discussing what I wanted, another girl snuck up behind her and untied her apron and they started all over again. I was about to walk out again when she finally started cutting my hair.

The whole time she was cutting, she seemed impatient and almost annoyed that I was there and taking time away from her play time. I was very disappointed in the experience.

Now, as a practitioner of the Fish! Philosophy, I am all for Play at work. Having fun at work is imperative for keeping the energy flowing and keeping morale high. But, not at the expense of customer service.

Ideally, we should look for ways to include the customer in our play. No, I'm not suggesting that I wanted to chase the girls around and try to untie their aprons. I'm suggesting that they could invent fun activities that make me, the customer glad that I am there, and encourage me to come back time and time again.

Since I am not a haircut expert, I will not try to suggest ways for them to run a haircut business. However, in this case, I would suggest that they keep inappropriate activities out-of-site of the customer.

I expect that if Southwest Airlines can make the pre-flight safety talk interesting and entertaining for their customers, the haircut professionals should be able to do the same. Just once, I'd like to feel like I am the most important person in the cutter's life for the 10 minutes I'm in the chair.

Playing and having fun will continue to take top companies to high levels of success. Look for ways to include your customers in your play. If this is not possible, remember that giving your customers world class service should be your top priority.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Being There

This weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Craig Valentine give two presentations at a local Toastmasters event. Craig is the Toastmasters 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking. He has many qualities that I admire in a person and as a speaker. He is humorous, entertaining, and his messages hit home and are memorable. The quality I admire most in Craig is his service attitude while speaking.

I first learned about this concept when I was working as a professional magician. I had the opportunity to watch many magicians at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. I discovered that there were two types of performers in the magic industry.

First, there were those that got up in front of there audience with an attitude of look at me, I'm a magician, and I'm special. As I watched these magicians and watched their audiences, there never seemed to be a connection.

The other type of magician I noticed are those that approached their audience with an attitude of it's all about you and I'm here to entertain you. These performers connected with their audience and really put on a great show.

Craig understands this concept. It was apparent that he was there for our benefit, for our learning and for our entertainment. As I watched his audience, they were on the edge of their seats, they were taking notes and they were truly being entertained.

We can take this concept into anything that we do. Whether we are doing slight-of-hand, speaking, cutting hair, waiting tables, managing people or volunteering our time, approaching any situation with an attitude of service can pay huge dividends.

Many thanks to Craig for reinforcing this concept and for being a wonderful example and role model of servant leadership. If you ever get the opportunity to hear Craig speak, take advantage of the opportunity. You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2010! It's that time again . . . time to make New Years Resolutions. This morning, I participated in the Wisconsin Emergency Communications Net by ham radio. During the net, the net controller asked each of us to share our ham radio related goals for the year. I was amazed at how many of the participants responded that they had the same goal as last year, because they never accomplished the goal last year.

There are many sources for goal setting techniques. You can even go to my website at and read my January 2007 newsletter. Here you will find a very simple goal setting technique.

Whatever method you decide to use, there are two very important keys to keep in mind. First, we need to make our goals relevant. If the goals aren't important to us, we will never achieve them. To make your goals relevant, ask yourself why? Why do you want to accomplish this goal.

The more whys that you can list, the more passion you will have for your goal. The more passion that you have to accomplish your goal, the more likely that you will.

The other key is that when we go through the steps to write down our goal, we need to do the work. By taking action every day, we will build the momentum needed to cross the finish line.

If you continue to struggle with your goals, contact me for a private goal coaching session. Don't let another year go by without making progress with your goals. Make 2010 the year that you take your life to a new level.