BK Magazine BK Business
Posted by Chip Bell.
Chip R. Bell is a senior partner with the Chip Bell Group and manages the office near Atlanta. He is the author of nineteen books, including Managers as Mentors (coauthored with Marshall Goldsmith) and Wired and Dangerous (co-authored with John Patterson).
Tabby was a new kitten to the neighborhood. Escaping from her brand new owner’s side porch one afternoon, she climbed to the top of the tallest tree in the area. Neighbors advised the owner to let Tabby come down on her own. But after a night in the tree, the young kitten seemed determined to not go kitty skydiving.
The fire department said there would be a $200 fee for a visit from the fire truck with the really long ladder. Tabby’s owner was going crazy with panic…and, guilt. Then, she remembered the nice lady at the animal shelter where Tabby had been rescued. She made a quick call and innovative service happened.
The animal shelter lady arrived within minutes with a child’s plastic swimming pool. Inside the pool were a dozen kittens from the shelter. Placing the pool full of kittens at the base of the tall tree, she directed everyone watching to remain completely quiet. Soon, the only sounds were the meows of the kittens. Young Tabby backed down the tree to join her former cell mates in the pool at the base. Everyone cheered and went home.
Innovative service is not always about making everything shiny. Sometimes, it is about making everything safe and comfortable in unexpected and delightful ways. Banks put uniforms and side arms on their security guards. Innovative service is dressing them up in a Wild West sheriff’s costume. Restaurants post signs in bathrooms directing employees to thoroughly wash their hands. Innovative service providers make them funny signs…like, “If you could see the germs on your hands, I guarantee you would wash them.”
Southwest Airlines is famous for turning the super important safety speech into a routine that passengers actually hear and remember. Who can forget, “Basically, just do what we say, and nobody gets hurt. And although we never anticipate a loss in cabin pressure, if we did we certainly wouldn’t be at work tonight.” Or, “As you know this is a no-smoking, no-whining, no-complaining flight. It’s a ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘you are such a good looking flight attendant’ flight.”
Customer comfort and well-being can be refreshingly ingenious and need not be about rules ‘r us or tight-lipped reserved security. It can be creative. How can you ensure your customers stay as refreshingly secure as a bunch of sleeping kittens?
Image Credit: Films42 via Pixabay