For many years I have kept an “Awesome/ Awful” log to record both ends of the service spectrum, and ask how to apply the lessons to both my own business and to my clients businesses. I start the Awesome lessons from the front of the notebook, and the Awful ones are page by page in from the back. It’s a simple system that requires just a single notebook and your eyes and ears.
If you travel and get to see businesses at the frontline (and I know many of you do), why not just jot down a quick note on what you see when it’s awesome, or awful. And then ask: “What is the lesson here?”
On a recent drive south from my home in Scotland, for a series of meetings and events (taking the car was the only convenient way to do it), about an hour into the 7 hour journey on day one I noticed a slight squeak coming from the car. Not one of those squeaks that’s enough to make you stop and seek immediate roadside assistance, but it was there. And it got gradually worse. I reached my destination at the end of day one, checked in for a relaxing night, before I would drive the 20 miles next morning for my first meeting…But I didn’t sleep well thinking about the noise, the hassle, the likely cost. As we know, cars are fine when they are working well, and you are confident in them.
Day two saw me rise early, conducted the FOCUS Gym broadcast down the line from my hotel room while Liz, back at the office did an online check for garages in the vicinity of my first meeting and phoned around to get me checked in for a quick look over the vehicle.
I made my way to the most convenient garage and was met by Jeff, the proprietor. He came out for a test drive, listened intently to both what I had to tell him, and to the now pretty evident squeaking noise. He hardly spoke as we toured the local housing estate.
He also appreciated I was on a tight schedule, a number of meetings in a number of towns up and down the M1 corridor for a few days. We returned to his garage.
“OK, Sir. Now, I’ve got an idea what it might be, but I want to put her on the ramp.”
Hmmm. A one ramp garage, with at least 6 cars ahead of me on his work schedule, and all packed into the small yard, so how was this going to work.
“Don’t you worry about that Sir. Where’s your first meeting? OK, well, we’ll get you to that no problem, even if your cars still here.”
Then, whoosh, and it seems mechanics and hired hands are everywhere, reversing cars out of the garage compound and off the ramp, to allow me to drive on.
Ramp up, me standing with bated breath (but by this time I have a coffee in my hand courtesy of one of the helpers).
Quick check over. And without the archetypal sucking of air through clenched teeth to make me fear the worse. Phone call, parts ordered. On their way. Will arrive in about 30 minutes.
Meantime… we can see you’re busy Sir, do you want to have a seat in the office, make any calls, etc…
I do, and enjoy the banter in the background about Leicester City’s footballing fortunes, the state of cricket at Grace Road (where Leicestershire play) and the latest on the rugby (Leicester Tigers).
Parts arrive, and work begins. In reality, work has already begun, dismantling the faulty parts from the car… wheels are off, and there’s gear everywhere. Every few minutes I’m given an update by Jeff, and shown what is happening at every stage.
Ninety minutes later I’m on my way, with new brake pads, full set, front and back, and a test drive done. Crikey, they have worked at Formula 1 Pit Stop speed to get me sorted. And the price… well not even a couple of hundred pounds. Brilliant.
OK… straight in the Awesome part of the journal.
And never had Jeff, or his assistant Chris, or the garage “old boy” (every garage should have an old guy who is past retirement but just likes hanging around, getting the morning papers, milk and rolls, and is ready to exchange happy banter with the customers) done a customer care training course in their lives. Never had they looked at a poster of a Lion with the words “Remember, the customer is king” underneath. Never had they used the platitude “There’s no I in Team”. Never had they had brainstorming or break-out sessions, or role-plays on how to make the customer journey a “satisfactory experience”.
They just focused on sorting my problem, minimum fuss, maximum speed, to get me back on the road. And they genuinely cared that they did a good job and that I went away happy. No, not just happy. Delighted. I did.
So, if you are in the Leicester area, and need a garage… Jeff is at G&D 4x4 specialists…
0116 277 4111
Life is a series of lessons; how often we hear the phrase “The University of Life” (aka “The school of Hard knocks”!). Yet, many people, whilst they are in the classroom, don’t really pay attention. Many people have to learn the same lesson thousands of times, before they see the lesson and apply it. In business, it is easy to miss the lessons happening all around (normally because many executives are too engrossed in their blackberries and mobiles). Noting down awesome/ awful service is just one way of becoming more observant of the lessons.
Oh, and before I forget... the answer to yesterday's missing 4th point on the day to day objectives for any business... "To have FUN".
Have a great day.