Recently, the CEO of an organization asked me “How do we turn our team members into passionate advocates for the cultures we’re trying to build?” Great question! When you’ve got staff members that are raving fans of your company, it will naturally follow that they’ll help you turn your customers into passionate advocates as well!
Whenever I am researching a book, and I speak with leaders (at any level) of organizations that are rocking the customer experience and red carpet results, one thing stands out to me. It doesn’t matter who I’m speaking with at the organization, they are falling all over themselves with excitement to tell me how amazing their company is! This can be the CEO, but often times it’s someone on the leadership team or a team member in the trenches. For instance, when I interviewed people at Ruby Receptionists, or Mama D’s Restaurant, or G-Adventures for 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers, I could feel that they were passionate advocates for their organization.
It’s why our mission is to help people experience the THRILL of the red carpet, where your customers matter, your work matters and you matter! The word THRILL is in there because when your team becomes passionate advocates for your company, it’s because they are excited by a common purpose and the difference they are helping you make in the world.
So, how do you turn your team members into those passionate advocates? Here are five ways to help you get started.
- Show them their purpose. One thing companies like Ruby Receptionists and Mama D’s have in common, is that their team members fully understand how what they do every single day makes a difference. They rally around common goals such as engaging with customers at a whole other level, practicing Wowism (a trademarked Ruby Receptionists core value), and making sure customers love their meatballs but come back for the experience (a Mama D’s philosophy.) Their leaders are transparent about financial goals and metrics and show their team members how what they do every day makes a difference to the company, the customer and ultimately, the world. They celebrate milestones and encourage everyone to reach for the next star so they’ll have something new to celebrate. Regardless of the role in the organization, each team member understands that they are an integral part of the common goal and the common good. They have a purpose!
- Involve them. True, leadership sets the vision and direction for the company. However, the more you involve your team, the more they become evangelists for the culture you’re trying to create! At Red-Carpet Learning Systems, we suggest that leadership get 80% clear on their vision for culture and customer experience and leave 20% for ideas from the team. After all, they are the ones in the trenches, working with your customers every single day. They are the ones experiencing your current culture and may have ideas about how to improve it. Ask them, if we were to take our culture up to the next great level, what should we stop doing? What should we start doing? What should we continue doing? Listen to their ideas and incorporate them into your vision and your standards of service. Involve them also in helping you to spread the message. For instance, when we work with customers, we often engage team members at every level to become facilitators of the training we create for them. We’ve watched with delight as they become passionate advocates for the message and ultimate create the change leadership seeks from the “bottom up.”
- Excite them. Make it fun! One of the opportunities you may have is to take your current best practices and kick them up a few notches. Give your team members something to buzz about and get excited by. For instance, look at your current employee orientation. If you’re like many of our customers, it may have become rote and, as a result, not as effective as it could be. What could you do to make it more engaging? Surprise and delight new hires with a red carpet welcome. Add props. Play games. Mix it up a little and deliver each piece in a different location. Give them chances to connect with each other and their new co-workers. Ask, “what would make this more exciting for me?” and then continue to add elements until your orientation (or training, or staff meeting, or whatever) is both effective and exciting. In actuality, the more you mix the fun with the content, the more effective it becomes!
- Inspire them. Collect, chronical, and consistently communicate stories of team members making a difference to customers, co-workers and the company. We call it “stories worth sharing.” Stories connect to people emotionally and cause them to act. You have them. People in your organization make these stories happen every day. The problem is that you think “that’s just what we do.” Tell them often and in a variety of ways. You’ll inspire your team members to go out and make more stories….which will, in turn, inspire others. Only, however, if they are shared.
- Appreciate them. It only takes a moment to make someone feel valued and appreciated. It starts by noticing. What are your team members doing that contribute to the whole? Let them know. One best practice is to spend a designated amount of time each week, walking around with the express purpose of noticing and acknowledging team members at their best. Remember to plan for different shifts, and to go “behind-the-scenes” to catch those people who may not get a lot of attention. If you have several locations, ask that stories be shared with you and take a tip from Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup. Doug was credited with turning the organization around and is legendary for writing 25 thank you notes to employees every single day. In his 10 year tenure as CEO, he wrote over 30,000 notes.
You may ask, “how do you get an hourly employee who has never received red carpet service to give it? ” The answer is, of course, to roll out the red carpet for them. Do this and soon they’ll be passionate advocates for your organization and its mission.
Donna Cutting is the Founder, and CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. and leads a team of customer service experts who help leaders build cultures of service excellence. She’s the author of two books on the topic and is working on the third one right now. To learn more about how Team Red Carpet can help you engage your teams to deliver red carpet customer experiences, email us at STARS@RedCarpetLearning.com.