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My Job When I Was 16…

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When I was 14, my very first job was bagging groceries at a local grocery store. I was responsible to greet the customer, move their groceries from the cart to the conveyor at the register, bag everything up and even take it all out to their car if needed (sometimes getting a small tip for loading the bags into their trunk). We offered a full service and we took pride in the fact that we were the only grocery store in the city that did that. I learned at an early age what excellence in service looked like and how a customer loved being catered to.

When I was 16, all that customer service experience landed me a new job: bus boy at a 5-star restaurant in the city’s largest hotel casino called MGM. The restaurant served gourmet Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine and it was called China Seas. Many celebrities that performed at the casino showed up with their entourage to dine, as well as local and international businessmen and women who came to enjoy dinner after gambling or watching a show. It was an awesome experience. The level of service was at such a high standard, so even bus boys like me were very involved in actively conversing with the customers as well as making sure their needs were met at all times.

These experiences taught me some life lessons about business and the importance of customer service. If done correctly, it can be a powerful tool that sets your company apart from the rest. Trust me – as someone who became used to offering such a high level of service, I often get disappointed as a customer seeking to be taken care of (I think that’s why my wife still calls me a princess when we go out to eat. lol)

I thought it would be fun to list some of what I learned to help re-define what customer service can be for us as business owners who continue to serve our customers on a daily basis.

1. Acknowledge their presence. Have you ever walked into a restaurant and no one was there to greet you right away? You stand around for awhile with no one noticing you; they just seem too busy and you start to wonder if you are even welcome there. At China Seas, their number one priority was to create the best first impression and for this very reason, we had two maître d’s. One was always there to greet and acknowledge the customer as soon as they walked through the door, and the second was a backup if the other maître d’ was busy doing the rounds or sitting someone. Our main maître d’s name was George – the friendliest and classiest guy ever (complete with a bow tie), and he never forgot a name. He treated everyone like they owned the building and he always made sure any guest they brought knew it. This simple value alone turned many visitors into repeat customers to eventually regulars.

2. Meet their basic needs first, then go beyond. As a bus boy, we had two main jobs: water and hot tea. I was assigned nine tables per night, and my job was to walk around and make sure their water did not fall below 1/2 full. If the boss saw the water glass empty, we got in trouble…if anyone asked for water because we forgot to fill it, we were dead…and if it occurred often, we would eventually be fired. The hot tea on the table was always filled up to the rim – even if they took 2 or 3 sips, we’d fill it back up to make sure it stayed hot. At the end of the night, they’d inevitably tell us to STOP filling up the cup – that’s when we knew we’d gone beyond their expectation.

3. Make eye contact. This doesn’t seem like much but it makes all the difference in the world. When we were walking around the tables to fill up the water, we looked at each customer to make eye contact. This avoids the frustration of the customer trying to get our attention. If the customer needed something, all they had to do is to make eye contact back at me. I’d be running over to see what I could do. I didn’t realize how important this was until I became a customer and needed my beer asap. The waiter walked by me three times without looking at me; I almost cried.

4. Execute quickly. When something is asked of you, act quickly to ensure they know you haven’t forgotten about them. It shows their immediate needs and wants matter to you.

Of course not all of us are in the food service industry, so this list may look a bit different for you. But I think there is some fundamental truth in each one that can be implemented in every context.

I would love to hear what you do in your business that goes beyond the norm to offer true excellence in customer service. I hope you fill the cup of every customer you meet today!


What Keeps You Up At Night?

Think about the last time that your heart was so heavily burdened and your mind was going 100 miles per hour, you just couldn’t sleep. What were you thinking about?

If you know me, I am a great sleeper. I take 30 minutes picking out the right movie to watch, get all cozy, and after a couple of minutes of the opening scene…I am out! Most nights, I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow. Except for when I have something heavy on my mind.

Last week, we found out our dog Sugar (sweet Maltese of 15 years) became terminally ill. She stopped eating and her kidney was failing. They say 15 years is a good long life for most dogs, but I just couldn’t sleep thinking about missing her and also trying to figure out what next steps to take.

As a business, we always have to ask ourselves, “What problem are you solving?” But when we ask our customers the same question, they often fumble around not knowing exactly what their needs are…until, we ask them this: “What keeps you up at night? What is it about your current situation that causes such a heavy burden that you are not able to peacefully sleep?”

During our painful research of “what next steps to take” with our beloved Sugar, we ran across a lot of websites that offered the same solution for our heaviness, but they did it in totally different ways. I would like to share with you why we chose who we chose and how they met our expectations and delivered exactly what we hoped for. A peaceful transition for Sugar into her next adventure.

Why we chose this company:

1. Welcome Section: Right away, they acknowledged what we are going through and offered comfort. But what I really loved about what they said was that the focus wasn’t on the pet owners (us), it was on the pet…what they were going through and what we all could do to help. In this story, they made the pet the hero, not the pet owners. This captured my attention right away.

2. Information Section: They started educating us. They showed us why the services they offered were right for us. It answered the most pressing questions we have and it included a link to more in-depth discussions, research, and videos helping us understand and create a clear picture of the process and expectations.

3. Testimonial Section: They offered insight to the people who have used their service. Their testimonials were not templated or generic; they were real, heart-felt testimonials in letter form explaining in detail how much they appreciated the service and why.

4. About Us Section: Even though they were all well-qualified doctors, they focused very little on their own accomplishments but more on their own story of childhood and how they became animal lovers, and why they currently love what they do and how it affects people’s lives.

Why we didn’t choose the other companies offering the same services:

1. Welcome Section: They didn’t take the time to acknowledge the visitors’ heaviness that brought us to their site in the first place. They mainly focused on all the different services they offer right away. Felt very salesy and untrustworthy.

2. Information Section: It was vague and didn’t offer additional resources or videos to educate or address the difficult questions or even controversial issues or philosophies about their services.

3. Testimonial Section: Mostly short, non-descriptive and templated testimonials. They didn’t offer any personal stories or even detailed examples of what was helpful.

4. About Us Section: Heavy emphasis was on the credentials of the doctors. Their education and previous experiences. Felt cold…like reading a resume.

This is why copywriting matters. It’s the latest word in our definitions series, and it really does have the power to shape people’s first impression of you. Although I’ve never met or spoken to anyone from the first company, just from reading the copy on their website, I knew in my heart, it was the right company. And it was.

We all know how hard it is to find solutions to meet our most important needs. Here’s to being that company that answers people’s questions with the empathy they are looking for so that on sleepless nights when people go searching, they find you.


Turning Your Pennies into Dollars

I am always reading the latest research about marketing, and during my content consumption phase, I hear this a lot, and I know you do too:

“In order to successfully engage and win the trust of your current and future customers, you have to continue to give VALUE. And the more value you give, the more trust you’ll earn.”

Okay, awesome!! But…what does it really mean? How do I know what’s valuable to my audience?

In his newest book Superfans, Pat Flynn paints a great picture of what VALUE is and how to provide it for your clients. He describes a conference where a speaker asked the audience if they saw a penny on the street, would they pick it up? Most people will keep walking…not worth their time. Then he asked, what about a quarter? About 50% of people raised their hands to say yes, they would stop. Finally, he asked, how many of you would pick up a dollar bill? At that point, most of the crowd raised their hands. In this example, all three levels of currency offered value, but the value of a dollar bill passed the threshold from “not worth my time” to “ok, I’ll stop.”

So, the next question is: how do I offer something that my audience will see as worth their time? How do we create the dollar bill level content that someone will stop for?

Here are 3 ideas to help you become a more valuable and trustworthy authority in your field.

1. Know your audience. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before….but really, KNOW WHO THEY ARE. What do they love? What do they hate? What are they good at? What are they bad at? Know their problems, know their frustrations, know their pain. And you know what you get to do? Help them out of their problems, help them out of their frustrations and help them out of their pain. How? Offer unique insights, tips, data, solutions and even inspiration.

I’ve been playing golf for a long time. I played competitively as a Junior and still keep a pretty low handicap (meaning, I am a pretty decent player…lol). However, I play with a lot of weekend golfers who are always frustrated at the game because they don’t improve. Why don’t they improve? Because they are weekend golfers – they never practice, but they all think they just need a magic cure. Knowing this inside information, I decided to start a podcast specifically for these weekend golfers and offer insights, tips, data, and solutions on improving their game by….inspiring them to practice. If you ever want to check it out, the podcast is called Better Golf Academy. I still get random fan emails saying how much I have helped their game.

2. Know your expertise. What does that mean? It means that whatever industry you are in, you are an expert whether you like it or not. You have unique insight that no one else has. You might not know it because it’s just part of your everyday life and you’ve been doing it forever so you take it for granted…but what you know and what you do is unique to a lot of people and they are dying to know what you know. Dive deep into the knowledge that seems so obvious to you, then share your journey and your findings.

Ever since I started camping, I’ve been researching a lot of camping gear. One of the essential needs when you are off the grid for 3-4 days is a reliable refrigerator, and in order to keep your refrigerator running 24/7, you need a good source of power. Well, how about a power unit that runs off of solar? Not knowing anything about this, I started my research and ran across a guy named Will Prowse. He’s a guru in his niche of off-grid solar power and I’ve learned so much from him. I trusted his expertise and ended up purchasing his recommended power unit. It’s exactly what we needed and for me and his other 472k followers, we find him and his content more than valuable.

3. Know your platform. In the golf example above, I chose a podcast as the way to get my information out to an audience. Why a podcast? It’s something I enjoy doing. Also, it’s less time consuming than a YouTube channel – video editing can be very tedious and tiring and I didn’t have a lot of energy for it. Editing audio for a podcast is more simple and something I feel like I could do consistently for a long time. Some of us think now that we have something to share, we need to use all platforms and channels to broadcast our content, but this can be overwhelming. Find one channel that fits who you are and that also provides an opportunity to reach the like-minded people that consume content on the same channel. Give it all you got and watch your audience grow.

I hope this helps get your creative juices flowing for how to strategize, create and broadcast your content. Don’t underestimate what you know – you really do have dollars in you that will stop customers in their tracks.

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