If I go into a pet store, I expect the people working there to love animals. That makes sense to me. Taking care of dogs, cats, birds, and fish can be fun but there are chores involved. Cleaning out a cage or bathing a dirty dog requires passion. When a pet storeowner creates a profile for the perfect employee, loving animals and being passionate about pets is a prerequisite.
Similar thoughts go through my mind when I walk into a bookstore. I expect that a principal hiring practice for a sales associate would be a love of reading. I always ask the person behind the desk at Barnes & Noble what they have read recently and would recommend. How disappointing if their response was, “Sorry, haven’t read anything in the past year.” Not the right fit for a bookseller.
Every frontline associate should be passionate about customer service no matter what the industry. It must be part of their DNA. Without passion, the experience is emotionless. Only front line associates who care and are caring should be hired. Customers crave a human connection. When they find it, they appreciate it. Relationships are created and loyalty sustained.
The customer experience is a journey. Going on that journey with a welcoming and helpful person makes the ride much more enjoyable. When I was researching my first book, The Welcomer Edge, Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business, I discovered the number one trait of a Welcomer was they had a history of helping. Either they volunteered at the local library or did homework with a younger sibling. They babysat, worked in a soup kitchen, and didn’t hesitate being there for a friend in need.
I always love to share my best customer experience stories. Just the other day, my wife and I were meeting friends for brunch at the Brownstone Pancake Factory in Edgewater, New Jersey. The restaurant was busy and we arrived early and were seated at a booth for four. Where were our friends? Oops! Miscommunication; we thought we were meeting on Saturday and they thought Sunday. We felt bad in the big booth while large parties were waiting in line to be seated. Our waitress, Ashley, said, “ No worries. Instead of four, there will be three of us for breakfast.” It wasn’t that Ashley was going to physically join us, but mentally. She was actively engaged and we felt special, not just another customer to be served. Ashley naturally knew what to say.
What should the number one line item in the hiring manual be for any company? Passion for customer service. Customer service is about fulfilling hope, being a good listener, and making people feel important. Otherwise, the point is missed.