Winning Attitude vs. Technical Aptitude

Would you consider your assembled customer service team your most valuable asset? Do you build your team by hiring first for attitude, initiative and problem resolution skills? Do you eliminate candidates when technical aptitude is lacking? Here, BARE International’s Linda Amraen shares her experience on a recent trip to a Cubs game…

“I had a customer service experience this past fall that not only resonated with me, it also supports an assertion that hiring first for customer service expertise and training for technical skills is an practical approach to grow your business.

My mother, a Cubs baseball fan for 70 years, was to come to DC to witness the Cubs play the Nationals in the division finals. Getting to that point would be a long shot requiring a series of losses and wins by both teams to result in the teams facing off in a division series. It was not meant to be, in the end the Nats failed to win a key game and the Cubs did not come to DC.  Mom was still scheduled to arrive though, so we would replicate the stadium experience.  We’d watch the first game of the Cubs series from our family room: front row “box seats” plus peanuts and a ready W flag.

A baseball game without hotdogs? We took a drive to a little Chicago style hotdog restaurant in the historic old town area of Leesburg, Virginia which comes complete with pictures and memorabilia of Chicago landmarks and tourist attractions including the hallowed Wrigley Field. Upon arrival we navigated the cobblestone walk and then climbed the few steps that led into the warmth of the restaurant. Post season baseball does not mean it is cool or comfortable in Virginia. We were sweating. I settled mom at the first table as the cashier greeted us with a genuine smile and friendly welcome. This was a associate who was willing to engage us in conversation. We talked about where we were from, the weather and who we’d bet would win the night’s game. Then, stepping back in to the role of cashier, she pleasantly took our order and went to work conveying it the cook. Her soft skills were right on target. She drew us in and made us feel right at home. We were fans of the smile and ease of conversation.

Sale completed with the up-sell to cheese fries, I returned to the table with 2 cups, one with water for me, the other empty. I retrieved a soft drink from the cooler, popped the top and started to pour when mom vocalized where is the ice? I turned to the cashier and asked if there was ice and she politely stated they did not have an ice machine, but the drink was cold from the refrigerator. I turned back to mom and restated that the drink was cold: there was no ice. To mom, soft drinks come with ice. Her face registered disbelief, yet her vocalizations further punctuated her disappointment. I can’t believe there is no ice? I have never heard of such a thing. It is so hot, how can that be? Then, quietly alongside my mom’s cup, appeared yet another cup, this one full of ice cubes. We both looked up in astonishment as the associate walked back to the cash register to wait on arriving customers. Seeing our faces and accepting our thanks she stated, “Sometimes when my boss is not here, I go next door to get ice. I don’t mind doing it and so when I can, I do.” Talk about excellence in problem resolution! She identified a need and amazed us by solving our “problem!” She didn’t call her manager to ask permission, she owned it and took it under her own authority to do what was needed to fulfill a customer need.

How many of us spend hours training to have our team member do exactly what came perfectly naturally to this associate. How often do we appreciate, yet undervalue attitude, initiative and problem resolution skills while interviewing instead for technical experience. Consider your most valuable asset your team. Hire for attitude and initiative and then give latitude to solve customer problems. Your competitive advantage will be your people and your customers will be your biggest promoters.

The Cubs went on to win that game, the division and the World Series. But what I remember most from mom’s trip is the cashier from the hotdog place and how she made us feel.”

If you are interested in learning more about your Customer Service team’s behaviors and technical skills, consider Mystery Customer Research through BARE International. We can work with you to develop a customized program providing actionable feedback to help you improve the experience for your customers. Click here to find out more.