Customer Experience Lessons from the Super Flock (and yes, I’m referring to chickens)

on December 13, 2016

3 Tips to Practice Today

Have you heard about the super-flock of super-chickens? In her TED talk called “Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work,” Margaret Heffernan, internationally known business expert, explores the concept that the most successful teams have a strong sense of what she calls Social Capital.

The idea is this: a super-flock made up of super-chickens, as defined by the highest productivity, was found to be characterized by aggression, dysfunction and waste. In fact, the super-flock literally pecked each other to death.

Super-chickens are all about winning, and not just that, but winning alone. They don’t care about connecting with others, they don’t care about fostering a spirit of team, they don’t care about the joys or pains that others experience.

Super-chickens may be great in some work environments, but they don’t work in customer experience, where connection and empathy are key. Customer experience requires employees that believe they are working in service of others. Bottom line is when each team member sees everyone else on the team as a partner vs. a competitor, the team and the customer win.

Customer Experience Lessons from the Super-Flock

So, how can we apply the concept of the super-flock to my world of retail, hotels and restaurants? Follow three simple steps:

  1. Hire employees who like to win as a team, who value connections, who have a natural bend to empathy. Ask questions in the interview process that help you see if they have what it takes to connect to another human. And if they can’t connect with you, then they probably can’t connect with your customers.
  2. Drive empathy by allowing employees to spend a day in the life of another role. Have your servers work a shift in the kitchen, have your front desk agents spend a day cleaning rooms, have your cashiers unload the shipment and get it onto shelves. This opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone else drives empathy for the challenges and the joys of their colleagues’ daily work.
  3. When you are doing it right, customers feel like they are a part of your team. You have to make sure that your teams not only have empathy for their teammates, but also for customers. Allow your employees to be customers of your business so they have a better idea of the customer’s needs and wants. Let them stay in a room for a night. Let them host their family for dinner. Place them in a dressing room with clothes to try on. Have them walk in the shoes of customers, so they can have a taste of what it’s like to be them.

I’d like to hear from you! What else can managers do to drive empathy and help create the best customer experiences possible? Keep it quick and easy to implement – nobody has time for long and hard, we’ve got customers to serve!

Thank you to my very talented colleague and desk next-door neighbor Lavinia Westfall for the awesome chicken artwork.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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