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CREATING MEMORIES AT THE BALLET

A mother, a longtime lover of ballet, took her son to watch his first ballet. It was a shortened ballet, meant for children, with all the guests at separate tables enjoying tea and cookies while watching the performance. The little boy was excited until he arrived and saw with dismay that he was the only boy in attendance. The mother wanted her son to enjoy the ballet and not feel self-conscious.

The host overheard the mother calming the little boy down as they first entered the room, and a server observed the mother telling her son how “ballet is for everyone.” They spoke and decided to seat the mother and her son at the best table in the venue, one which was front and center of the stage. Both the mother and little boy were delighted they had such a wonderful view, and it made it easier for the mother to explain the show to her son.

At the conclusion of the show, when all the guests were leaving, the host approached the mother and son and told them that the ballerinas wanted to meet them and take a picture with the little boy. The mother was moved by the thoughtfulness of the host. The little boy was overwhelmed with excitement to meet the dancers and said he could not wait to attend his next ballet.

Customer Service Takeaways

  • Customers might not always tell you what they need or want – but if you observe and listen to them carefully, you may be able to tell what their unexpressed wishes and needs truly are.
  • There are often small things you can do to make an experience memorable or to help a customer, that do not cost you or your organization anything. In this case, rearranging the table seating and having the dancers meet the little boy after the performance cost nothing and created lifetime memories.
  • If a customer has a child, making the child happy is often a way to make the customer happy. Consider what you can do to keep your “little customers” happy.

The Blog Post Customer Experience: A Child’s Ballet appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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John’s Perspective

Do you know what your professional currency really is? This is what motivates you and is the medium through which your boss or colleagues can most affect you. And surprisingly, it’s not the same for everyone. Understanding what your currency truly is will help you better understand yourself and goals.

Your currency isn’t a nice-to-have

Your currency isn’t going to be something that’s a nice-to-have, it’s what will make-or-break things for you. For instance, while everyone wants a fair salary (and ideally as high as possible), salary amount isn’t everyone’s currency. If salary is your currency, then it will be the ultimate motivator for you and getting a higher salary will be the best form of recognition. It also means that getting a much higher salary is what will likely lure you to another company.

But if salary isn’t your currency, while you will appreciate and be happy about bonuses and raises, getting a higher salary might not be enough to keep you at a job that isn’t meeting your currency. Likewise, if salary isn’t your currency, you might find that while a higher salary at another job is appealing, you won’t necessarily accept the new job just for that.

Currency can be a number of things

While there isn’t a set list of what a person’s professional currency might be, most people tend to have salary amount, title, responsibility, recognition, workplace prestige, and impactful work at the tops of their lists. You can see from the variance in that list that these are all very different motivators and deal-breakers – someone who wants a lot of responsibility may value having direct reports more than someone who wants to work on impactful work which affects the organization. And someone whose currency is workplace prestige will forgo a higher salary or elevated title in order to stay at a very admired company.

Once you understand your currency, work towards it 

If you understand that your true currency is workplace prestige, and your current organization is not prestigious enough for you, perhaps you would be happier and more successful if you moved to a different organization. Likewise, if having more responsibility at work is your currency, then have a frank conversation with your leader about what s/he thinks you will need to do over the next 6-12 months in order to gain more responsibility on a specific project, area of the business, or more people responsibility.

You’ll find that having this understanding about yourself will help you make career decisions more easily and will help you feel happier and more fulfilled in the workplace. It will also allow you to have more impactful discussions with your leader about how you can be the most engaged in the workplace.

Join us The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center at one of our upcoming Enrichment Courses to learn more about the best practices of leadership, customer experience, and the talent experience. The “John’s Perspective” posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Marriott International. 

The Blog Post John’s Perspective: Determine Your Currency appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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A WEBSITE AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE DISCONNECT

A father was on his way to pick up his daughter after her soccer practice, so they could drive off on a family vacation. As he pulled out of his company’s parking garage, he noticed his car was shaking. He pulled over in the garage and realized he had a flat tire. He did not have a spare tire in his car and fixing his car was not his first priority – getting a new, drive-able car to pick up his daughter and go on vacation was his priority.

He called a local car rental company that was just two miles away. He explained his situation, and said he noticed on their website that they had a company car and could pick clients up if they were within a five mile radius. The agent on the phone acted confused and said that they did not offer such a service. The father politely insisted they did, having just seen it on their website. The agent flatly told the father that they did not offer such a service, so he would have to take a cab to get to them.

The father was upset. He called a cab company to pick him up and take him to a rival car rental company that was a little further away. He managed to rent a new car, pick up his daughter, and leave for his family vacation on time. While on vacation, he made sure to leave an unfavorable online review for the original car rental company with the outdated website.

Customer Service Takeaways

  • All your advertising channels, including your social and digital media, should match your brand and company promises.
  • If an expectation is set for a customer, not being able to deliver on it will confuse and upset your potential customers.
  • If there is something an employee thinks they can do to help a customer (in this case, figuring out how to pick up the father), they should be empowered to do it.
  • Your customers will literally travel out of their way to your rivals if they are dissatisfied with your service.

The Blog Post Customer Experience: Car Rental Company appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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A PARTYGOER WHO NEEDED SERVICE QUICKLY

A holiday partygoer rushed straight from her corporate office to her gym, to change out of her suit and into a cocktail dress. While changing, she realized she left her cosmetics bag at home. A quick time check made her realize that if she was swift, she should be able to run across the street to a high-end cosmetics boutique and then catch a cab to her party.

She dashed across the busy street and into the boutique, hoping to quickly pick out a few products. While the boutique had a number of sample products out to test colors, she was having trouble finding the actual unopened products for purchase. No one had greeted her when she entered and no one was helping her now. She noticed two sales associates chatting with each other in the corner, and as there were no other customers in the store, she walked over and asked if one of them could please assist her. There was a noticeable pause in the conversation between the two associates, and the one of them visibly rolled her eyes. They both turned to the partygoer and told her to please wait a minute and then one of them would assist her.

The partygoer was stunned at this reaction and promptly walked out of the store. She was annoyed at how she had been treated at the boutique and also upset that the time she wasted prevented her from stopping by another store to buy makeup. She went to the party sans makeup and felt very self-conscious the whole night. She made a point of explaining what happened to her female friends at the party.

Customer Service Takeaways

  • It is important to always give your customers a warm greeting when they enter your establishment. This helps them feel welcomed and also gives you the opportunity to assess their needs.
  • Body language speaks volumes to your customers. Even if your words are polite, body language that could be perceived as rude, such as eye-rolling, is offensive to customers.
  • Even a small negative interaction can impact a customer’s day. And when this happens, the dissatisfied customer is very likely to complain about it to their network.

The Blog Post Customer Experience: Cosmetics Boutique appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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John’s Perspective

I’m a lucky man: I love what a do, and part of that is being on the road 3-5 weekdays (and sometimes weekend days), most weeks of the year, as I visit my amazing clients around the world. In addition to meeting and working with clients live, I also have projects for my organization, planning calls and preparation for upcoming clients, expense reports, and emails.

While it’s always tempting to catch up on (or get ahead) on projects late at night or on weekends or holidays, I try to avoid the urge. I’ve found that by avoiding overwork and taking the time to truly “unplug,” I’m much more productive in my working hours.

Being rested helps me get more done during the workday

There was a time in my career when I decided that by staying up very late and waking up very early, I would be more productive. While I was more productive for the first 2 weeks, the strategy soon backfired. I became exhausted during the daytime hours, accomplishing less than I normally would, and downing cups of coffee to stay alert. I realized that whatever minimal amount of work I was able to sleepily wade through in the late night/early morning hours wasn’t worth how unproductive I had become during the normal workday. I cut out regularly doing late night work and focused on catching up on sleep. I quickly returned to my energetic daytime self and found that I was able to accomplish more in a normal workday if I was rested, then in a much longer workday when I was exhausted.

I invest my leisure time in activities that will energize me. 

I try to use my leisure time wisely, on activities which will energize me. While what energizes a person varies – it could be anything from a nap, video games, a good book, or a long run – for me, it is spending time with my family. Nothing puts me in a better mood and gives me a passionate, positive outlook on life like being with the ones I love the most. Identifying what activity or activities will energize you will ensure that you’re spending your few precious hours of leisure time doing a worthwhile activity. Zoning out in front of the TV or surfing the internet are only worthwhile if they are enjoyable and energizing – not if they are mindless time sucks.

Use all your PTO and use it in a way that will stress you out the least.

I always read statistics about how Americans tend to not use all their PTO every year – but trust me, it’s much better for your health (and your productivity!) if you do use it. And you can be creative as to how you use it. It stresses some people out to go on vacations that are a week or longer, because of all the preparation needed at work to prepare their team for their absence. Consider taking shorter vacations to refresh, such as taking the occasional Friday or Monday off, for a long weekend. Chances are, taking a three or four day weekend won’t require substantial work (or personal) preparation on your part and might even allow you to have more travel flexibility for better fares.

Join us The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center at one of our upcoming Enrichment Courses to learn more about the best practices of leadership, customer experience, and the talent experience. The “John’s Perspective” posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Marriott International. 

The Blog Post John’s Perspective: Unplug to Be More Productive appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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KINDNESS MAKES A BAD DAY BETTER

A young businesswoman ran into a major train station to travel from Washington D.C. to New York City. She was on the verge of tears – she had left her apartment with ample time to catch her train, but unexpected delays on public transportation had delayed her arrival to the train station. She had a business meeting in New York just hours later, and she was very worried she would miss her meeting.

Seeing that the train had already left the station, she went to the ticket counter, where she nervously waited in a long line. By the time she made it to the ticket agent, she was very distraught. She blurted out to the agent that she had missed her train, and that she did not know what to do.

The agent warmly smiled at the young businesswoman and told her that she was going to try her hardest to turn her day around. The agent said that she could rebook her on a train leaving in just a half hour, and that there would be no additional charge. The agent also said the best part was that the young woman could now enjoy some breakfast and coffee at the station.

The young woman was overwhelmed with gratitude for both the cost-free train rebooking and agent’s kindness. Her mood instantly improved, and she enjoyed a nice breakfast. She caught her train and made it to New York City in time for her meeting.

Customer Service Takeaways

  • Being empathetic to a customer who is having a bad day can touch them emotionally and create brand loyalty.
  • Some concessions, such as filling a seat on a train that has room, cost your organization nothing. And generously offering such a concession to a flustered customer will improve their day and make them a brand advocate.

The Blog Post Customer Experience: Missed Train appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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John’s Perspective

We all talk and hear about “mindfulness” – how to be more mindful at work, with your friends and family, and in our daily lives. While there is a lot of advice floating around on this topic, here’s my advice for how I stay mindful in work meetings.

Phone down and on silent

Unless I have a meeting when there is a truly urgent personal matter, I endeavor to always put my phone face down and on silent. This sounds simple, but I am constantly surprised by how many people I see who leave their screens visible during meetings. Doing this one thing keeps me from being distracted by incoming texts and emails. It also helps me lose track of time (in a good way), so that I’m not constantly watching the clock.

I’m not a smartwatch-wearer, but for the more tech-savvy, I also recommend you turning your notifications off, so you aren’t being alerted about incoming calls, texts, and emails during your meetings.

Watch and listen to the speaker

It happens to the best of us in meetings, especially when the topic isn’t of particular interest: we inadvertently stop listening to the speaker. One trick I’ve found to keep this from happening is to keep my eyes on the speaker, particularly their mouth, as they are speaking. For me, this keeps me focused on what the speaker is saying and helps me process the information more efficiently. Because honestly, it is such a waste of time if you’re sitting in a meeting and you’re not even processing the information.

Take notes the old-fashioned way

I love my laptop, but unless I need to use it in a meeting to view a specific screen or project, I try to keep it out of meetings. This serves a two-fold purpose: 1) I’m not distracted by incoming emails, and 2) I then have to record information by hand, in a notebook. Though I can generally type more quickly than I can write, I’ve found that handwriting my notes makes them resonate more. It also gives me the added satisfaction of getting to “cross-off” action items, a pleasure that one does not get when typing their notes.

Join us The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center at one of our upcoming Enrichment Courses to learn more about the best practices of leadership, customer experience, and the talent experience. The “John’s Perspective” posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Marriott International. 

The Blog Post John’s Perspective: My Tips for Mindfulness in Meetings appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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A LESS-THAN-SMOOTH CELEBRATION

An anxious mother had booked an indoor play area for her toddler son’s birthday. She had planned it all in advance, from decorations to guest list, and wanted the party to go particularly well, as she had invited her son’s preschool class. Wanting to avoid having to use an outside caterer, she also preordered lunch for all the children and their parents, including appetizers, side dishes, and pizza as the entrée.

The Saturday of the party, her son was bouncing around the house with excitement. The young birthday boy, his father, and his mother all arrived at the party and were warmly greeted by a hostess at the party room. Small guests began arriving and the party was in full swing for an hour, until it was time for lunch to be served. To the mother’s surprise, only the appetizer and the side dishes came out, and there was no pizza. None of the parents were able to eat and the children were all hungrily nibbling on small amounts of food. The mother was very upset and embarrassed and hastily spoke to the party room hostess. The hostess apologized and said that the events team had forgotten to cook to the pizzas. After a half hour, numerous boxes of pizza came into the party room, and all the guests were fed. However, the mother was still very embarrassed and upset.

At the end of the party, the event manager met personally with the mother. She sincerely apologized for the oversight, noting that it was entirely her team’s fault, and that she was sure it had been a big inconvenience for the family. She mentioned that she knew the family had held their son’s birthday party at the play space last year too, and that she hoped they would continue to return. The events manager also offered the family a discount on the party that day, to make up for their troubles.

The mother was touched by her sincere apology, and also appreciative of the 20% discount the event manager offered. The mother vowed to return the next year for her son’s party.

Customer Service Takeaways

  • Mistakes will happen to the best of organizations, so it is important to sincerely and empathetically apologize.
  • Discounts can an effective mean of service recovery if combined with a genuine apology.

The Blog Post Customer Experience: A Child’s Party appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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John’s Perspective

It’s acceptable to disagree, but it’s never acceptable to be rude. As a leader, you will often be faced with new business strategies, tactics, and opinions about your organization. Some of those you will embrace with open arms and others will sound like the worst ideas you’ve ever heard. You are always allowed (and hopefully, encouraged) to courageously embrace your own opinion and make your case. Please just remember to keep your discourse civil.

Not being civil will hurt your argument, and potentially your relationship.

I remember explaining to my children, when they were younger, that throwing a tantrum because they wanted something would ensure they definitely did not get it. The same is true in the adult world, particularly the business world: “losing your cool” and becoming angry because you don’t agree with something will definitely ensure you do not get it. And, unlike children, whose behavior we’ll forgive because of their extreme youth, not acting civil with another adult may harm your professional and personal relationships. Said a different way: not acting civil only makes you lose twice and never helps you win. You will lose the short-term discussion at hand and you will do longer-term damage to your relationships and reputation.

Body language counts.

Even if your words are civil and generous, it does not mean that you can ignore your tone or your body language. While the often-repeated “93% of communication is non-verbal” has now been debunked by numerous sources, it is true that non-verbal communication reveals your underlying emotions and motivations. Poor body language, such as agreeing that something is a good idea with a very sarcastic tone, while rolling your your eyes, will completely overshadow the fact that you agreed to the idea. While you still must be cognizant of your word choices, be aware of your body language: keep your tone neutral, don’t roll your eyes, and try not to cross your arms or put your hands on your hips.

If the other party is frustrated, practice empathy.

The other party in your discussion may be frustrated with how the conversation is going. And sometimes (perhaps if they didn’t read this column), they might not even be acting civilly. Tempting as it may be to also take the low road, remember to maintain your civil discourse and body language and to instead be empathetic to your discussion partner. Maybe you think they’re overreacting (and they might be!), but perhaps there’s another reason why, and it has nothing do with this discussion. They might just be stressed, tired, sick, or worried about something else. And if you felt that way, wouldn’t you want someone to show you some empathy? Keep calm, don’t take their anger or overreaction personally, and show them some kindness. It will likely diffuse any mounting anger they have, will get your discussion back on a professional track, and it may even make their day a bit better.

Join us The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center at one of our upcoming Enrichment Courses to learn more about the best practices of service, civility, and problem resolution.  The “John’s Perspective” posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Marriott International. 

The Blog Post Incorporate Civility Into Your Discussions appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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John’s Perspective

Even if unpleasant to do, giving constructive feedback is necessary. Being a leader and effective manager means you will have many opportunities to give out both praise and constructive feedback. While both require skill, practice, and thought to deliver well, the latter is often more intimidating.

Negative feedback elicits a stronger response.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m advocating for messaging to be overly critical or negative: I just want you to be aware of this point. Past research has shown that employees can react to a negative interaction with their boss six times more strongly than a positive interaction. While all those interactions may not have been feedback-giving instances, this suggests that negative feedback affects both an employee’s mood, productivity, and engagement.

Thus, even when you plan on delicately and cautiously delivering constructive feedback, you should be very deliberate in ensuring it is not overly critical. If it is, you run the risk of your message being lost while also lowering your employee’s engagement and wellbeing. You have to consider how important it is that you deliver the corrective message: do you need to give the feedback to avoid business disruption or was your employee’s misstep simply a small, likely one-time occurrence? If it is a small infraction and unlikely to occur again, it might be better for the employee’s mood and productivity if you don’t provide the feedback.

Always ensure you are delivering your feedback in private.

When your employee truly does need constructive feedback, because their actions are disrupting or potentially harming the business, then you must ensure you are always delivering the message in private. Try to keep your tone collaborative and deliver the theme that the feedback is being provided to help your employee’s performance in the future.After all, while the message of your feedback is vital to the employee, so is ensuring that you haven’t made the employee feel defeated in the process. By helping them understand that you value them, their progress, and their future with the organization, you’ll be best setting them up to best understand and want to apply your advice.

Join us The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center at one of our upcoming Enrichment Courses to learn more about the best practices of giving feedback and rewarding and recognizing your employees.  The “John’s Perspective” posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Marriott International. 

The Blog Post Tips For Giving Effective Constructive Feedback appeared first on The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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