It only makes sense that as specialists in customer experience and service, CSP staffers are especially attuned to their own interactions with businesses. Here, Brittni Redding, Director of Client Education, describes one business that has earned her loyalty and what others can learn by this example.
You can really tell quite a bit about the culture of an establishment by assessing the “climate,” or the feel when you walk in the door as a customer.
I have a uniquely memorable experience when I get my daily coffee at a gas station near our offices here in Omaha, Nebraska. When I walk in the door, the first thing I notice is that all eyes are up from the task at hand, and I’m greeted warmly. I also notice that the environment is clean and well stocked – if a customer walks through with wet or muddy shoes, it’s mopped up immediately. These may seem like bare-minimum details, but they already set the tone for what kind of service I can expect from this business.
Keeping the coffee urns full is clearly a top priority in the morning. You can observe every single employee checking and checking and checking. One time, (and I mean only once) the original roast ran out for me mid-pour. I chose another brew and politely notified the cashier during check-out. His response? “We didn’t get you what you wanted today, so that coffee is on the house.” Score one for me and another for this business!
My favorite part of this daily visit might be one of the regular cashiers. Chuck dresses up various days of the week in a loud flowered shirt and straw hat (or as Uncle Sam on Election Day) and always says to me “Hey, hey! How are we doing today?” I can’t recall a time when I didn’t see a smile on his face. He also always notices if I stray from my normal purchase of a large coffee and granola bar and asks about how the additional snacks fit into my day. “No time for lunch today?” he’ll say, and we’ll go on from there until he closes by wishing me the best day ever. He is SO happy! Every. Single. Day.
My co-workers, who have been patrons of this particular gas station for many years before I joined the team, told me about it when I first started. Clearly the service has an impact on referrals! The turnover is minimal, given they have seen the same workers there for years – a good sign that the internal climate for employees is as good as the external impression I get as a customer.
Some key elements that I see at play at this gas station/food shop:
- a clear picture of their main purpose (the customer), which is shared by all employees, not just one or two “top performers,” as evidenced by their genuine and authentic approach to ALL customers
- autonomy and empowerment at the shop level to allow employees to make customer-centric decisions, which could correlate to a trust-based internal culture
- openness to new ideas and willingness to progress through fun social media promotions and crazy outfits. The company itself runs fun promotions via social media every Friday. Telling employees a chosen phrase, like “Go Big Red” (in honor of the Huskers) earns you a 25-cent coffee.
What really blows me away is that this is a gas station we’re talking about.
You can go anywhere for gas and food, right? Yet many times I have gone out of my way to give this particular station my business. Stepping back into my professional shoes for a moment, I’m measuring their “culture” as a result of how I feel as a consumer during my interactions with the business. My colleague Jeff Dahms (CSP’s Vice President of Research and Development) would undoubtedly prefer some hard numbers related to turnover, business performance, sales, etc. – but the point remains, when the culture of a place is right, the customer feels it.