Kudos to Automotive Art for excellent service 👍🏼👍🏼

As a trainer, I view service interactions through a critical lens. Did the attendant greet me first? What is their non-verbal communication conveying? Do they need training? The employees of Automotive Art definitely do not. My recent interactions there demonstrated hallmarks of excellent service, from start to finish. Here is how it went.

I was sent to buy coolant – a special type. To ensure I bought the correct one, I entered Automotive Art with a half full bottle. Immediately on entering, an attendant greeted me, looked at the bottle and asked if I had come to buy one. He had been dealing with a customer and after I answered “yes,” he asked the customer for permission to go and get the coolant for me. He was back within 30 seconds. Two points of excellence thus far.

Next, he told the security guard that I had brought in one of the bottles so I would be paying for only one. The guard did not immediately acknowledge him because he too was dealing with a customer. The attendant repeated it to ensure he had heard.

At the cashier, it appeared that a trainee was handling the station, with her trainer close by. Before I could speak, the guard told the trainer that I had to only pay for 1. When the trainee had completed the transaction before mine, she looked and saw that I had 2 bottles and asked the trainer if I was paying for 2. The trainer told her only 1, and that I had brought my own. More brownie points!

While the cashier was dealing with me, the trainer noticed I was wearing a T-shirt with the name of a secondary school on it. She asked me if I had gone to that school. I said yes and she said she also had attended that school. I joked that I was old enough to be her mother. That encounter ended and next, the security guard checked the bill and my purchase. I had paid by credit card and asked him for a stapler to fasten the slip to the receipt. He did not have one, however, he went and got one.

I was in and out in under 10 minutes and I was not the only customer.

What was so good about this experience?

  1. I was greeted first, with a smile and eye contact and offered assistance.
  2. I got served quickly.
  3. The attendant requested permission from another customer first, before he assisted me.
  4. Each attendant passed on information, ensuring I didn’t have to repeat it.
  5. All employees were helpful and pleasant.
  6. The trainer engaged me in conversation.

Delivering excellent service is really not that difficult. Ask Automotive Art how they did it. They certainly don’t need my help.

Learning Alert: Digital Strategies

As I look towards 2018 and a changing work situation, I am trying to refresh skills which would serve me well from 2018. I decided to invest in this event run by Christian Junior. If I learn with 2 new skills, I would be happy. 

Here is Christian in action.




One of the five dimensions of the SERVQUAL model of Service Quality is Responsiveness. The usual explanation of this dimension is “the willingness to help customers and to provide prompt service,” suggesting that it is applicable to a real time service experience. After an incident at the supermarket one day, I chose to test their degree of Responsiveness over 24 hours.

At the cashier check out station near to closing time, she tried every code she could and none worked for the Sunflower Seeds I had picked up. She left the station, went to look at other packs, spoke with another employee, then came back and apologized, saying she could not sell it because the code was not in the machine.

I had to go back into that supermarket the next day, so decided to test their responsiveness by picking up the Sunflower Seeds again. Success! I was a happy customer. 

Imagine if the cashier on the first night had passed on the issue, and the responsible person did not take action. Of if the cashier did not pass on the problem at all. The customer would have noticed it. The challenge of leaders is to let each employee see how their action directly impacts on service. On this occasion, there was a positive outcome. When I next see her, I will definitely congratulate her on the action she took. 

What are you doing to ensure that your employees are responsive?

Do You Care About Your Career?

I was going through some picture files on my phone and found one I had taken of a magazine article from a Self magazine entitled “The New Ambition”. Not sure why I kept it. Well, maybe I do. It is because I like asking participants to think about whether their careers are fulfilling and whether they feel great about it at the end of a week. I think if all is right with oneself, then being happy, creative and productive at work is less of a chore.

How I got into my original career in hotels was quite by accident. Or maybe not. A very good family friend had been appointed Director of Tourism. My father and I were watching the news when the announcement came on and he said to me “maybe that’s what you want to do.” I had been meandering through school, and was in the process of repeating Lower Sixth form. I told him “ok” and set about completing the necessary paperwork when the time came. Apparently, I used to like to cook and even wrote out menu cards which my mother – the family archivist – has kept to this day. 

Read More…

Do you say any of these to your employees?

Entrepreneur magazine published this article by Lindsay Broder which discusses 7 things you should never say to your employees. Be honest. Have you ever said any of them in the heat of an interaction with your employees? I have heard many mangers say #1 “I’m the boss. Do as I say.”  Perhaps early in my managerial career, I might have been guilty of that too. However, as I focussed on my personal development, I realized that I had to find other ways to influence the employees I managed to do their assigned tasks….and willingly, so that customer service could be at the desired standard.

I recall having success where I managed a team, most of whom were much older than me, were unionized and were generally seen by others as the ‘bad eggs’ in the company. Treating each as a human and an individual, I set out to find what made them tick, what their hot buttons were and ways which made them shine. I guess I realized I was successful, mostly, when I received an award for my leadership of that team.

My feeling is that if managers have to resort to any of these 7 phrases or retorts, then they themselves have some work to do on their skills. I am not saying that all managers have to be perfect, however, they should certainly try to better tomorrow, than they were yesterday. Read more, try new things, hire professionals like us to help identify the issues and suggest solutions.

Commit to avoid saying any of these phrases to your employees. They will appreciate you for it and your customer service delivery will improve.

Empathy in Customer Service

I was on a flight within the Caribbean, and observed a very interesting exchange between a Flight Attendant and a young mother, which could be used as a case-study in Customer Service training programmes.

The young mother was travelling with a 15-month-old toddler, who had been keeping her very busy for the duration of the four-hour flight.  She had to use various means to keep him entertained. He just would not fall asleep…..and why should he? It was the middle of the afternoon and there were much more interesting things to do and see than sleep!

Midway through the flight, the passenger took some sweet biscuits from her bag and gave to her son.  Not even 20 minutes after, he threw them all up.  Immediately, the section of the plane we both were in, reeked of vomit.  The two male passengers beside her seemed to be taking it in stride.  From my vantage point behind them, there was no adverse reaction from either of them, and they even seemed empathetic towards the mother.

Responding to the Call Button, the flight attendant came to see what the problem was.  The passenger told her that her son had thrown up. She also mentioned that it needed to be cleaned up. 

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What’s the vision for your service?

Business owners, especially those who are in a manufacturing type company, may focus all their energies on the product, from design specifications to manufacturing processes. How much time is spent designing the service they would like their employees to deliver to customers who will buy those products?

I feel that the starting point is to define what the vision for your company’s service is. What would you like to measure your service against? What key performance indicators will you use? What kind of training will be necessary? How often will you test the service anonymously to see if the end result you envisioned is being delivered to the customer?

If you have been in business for many years, it is not too late to do this exercise. Gather your key employees together and you should also try and include those who have served customers directly as they may have valuable contributions. Brainstorm and see what you define as the draft vision for your service.  Although you would be working from ‘front to back’, you will be able to use the vision statement as the starting point to make changes throughout the company.

To complement that exercise, you will also need to have the necessary training sessions to ensure that it permeates throughout the entire organization and is infused in all your processes.

Increasing Productivity, Motivation and Engagement

All companies want to get the most out of their employees. That means ensuring employees want to be at work, fully committed and operating at maximum capacity. This article gives some tips from Yves Morieux’s Ted Talk. His theme is simplification, which resonates with me. Watch the original speech.