An example of servant leadership happened in a restaurant last night.
My wife and I were enjoying a meal in a local restaurant. We were not enjoying our drinks, because even though we had repeatedly asked for them, the drinks failed to arrive. A waitress, Jade, who was working another table saw that we were having a problem. When we told her she went off to the bar, spoke to the barman and came back immediately with our drinks.
Later when we wanted to pay we could not find out waitress – the same waitress that never managed to find our drinks. So Jade once again came to the rescue and sorted out our bill. At her own initiative she took the drinks off the bill because (as she put it) we shouldn’t have to pay for drinks that took so long to arrive.
Remember that Jade was not our waitress, and was not even working our table. She saw and solved a problem in her workplace. She made a very grumpy customer a lot happier, and she possibly made the difference in us going back there. I asked for her name because we want to make sure that she serves us next time we eat there. Jade was an ambassador and she will go far.
This is a fairly trivial example, but how often does it happen? When last did it happened to you, and what did you do? How did you action impact your business, or the people around you?
A few days ago, I listened to David Grier giving a speech. David does crazy runs that make my marathons look like a walk around the block. He ran across the entire Great Wall of China (4200km), across Cuba (1800km), and a bunch of other crazy runs.
He is one of the authors of the Real Meal Revolution!
He is a wonderful man with some great advise. Here are some lessons that I learned from him:
- You need the self-belief to dig deep
- No man achieves anything on his own
- I’m the one that has to change
- The sun will set in the evening, and rise the next morning, regardless of what you do
- Its usually not the big things that get you down – it’s an accumulation of little things
- Nearly everything is not impossible…if you want it enough dig deep enough
- It’s when you say that you can’t that you can
- You learn the most when you are struggling
- Have honesty and appreciation, understanding and acceptance
- Nobody is going to run your life for you
- If you can find reason for why you are suffering, you are no longer suffering
- Where do you fit into your dream?
- Nobody will effect change for you
- We need to be the change we want to see
- We cannot change on our own
- The ability to change on the way is key to finish a journey.
And finally for race fuel, he recommended Cabanossi sausages from Pick n Pay,, and squashed pork belly (put the fat runoff in a ziplock to suck on, and slice the port to eat)!
Hope that helps – it certainly gives me some perspective!
(photo from David’s website)
I was asked to write a short piece as to why I have been a member of Toastmasters for over 15 years. I have shared it below.
My intention when I joined Toastmasters was to be a member for a few months – just long enough to improve my business speaking skills. More than 15 years later I am still a member, and I am asked why? Here is the answer. Toastmasters has not just improved my business speaking skills, it has played a major role in my career, from being more confident at work to being called upon to deliver presentations to fellow staff members, customers and suppliers.
I regularly chair meetings and design sessions, helping teams develop software applications for some of the largest companies in South Africa.
Without the communication and leadership skills I have developed from Toastmasters I would not be in same position as I am.
I have met some amazing people and make some great friends, not just at home in Cape Town, but quite literally all over the world. I have Toastmasters friends in every continent that I can call and say hi to.
It truly is an organization where leaders are made, and more importantly where friendships are made.
Pic: Congratulating the 2009 World Champ of Public Speaking, Mark Hunter at the Toastmasters International Convention
First of all full disclosure; Cybercellar gave me a R100 discount voucher to try out their website with the aim of writing a blog post about it “if you feel that we are worth mentioning, we believe we are!, it will be appreciated.” Well they gave me R100 to spend on wine; of course I am going to use it!
And I am going to mention my experience because in some ways it was amazing, and in some ways about the worst I have ever experienced. But whatever happened, there are lessons here.
The story in brief.
The downhill experience…
- I ordered 6 bottles of wine on the evening of 9 April, and according to the website I would get next day delivery.
- On the late afternoon of the 10th, I received an email that the order had been shipped and I was given the tracking number.
- Nothing arrived on the 10th or the 11th.
- On the 12th I got a call from the courier saying that they were running late and would deliver to my home in the evening (a Friday).
- Later that day I got another call from the courier saying they would not make Friday, but would deliver by 10am on Saturday (by which time I thought “yeah right”).
- And of course nothing arrived on Saturday.
Rescuing a bad situation…
- On Saturday afternoon I sent a complaint email to Cybercellar, expecting a response on Monday.
- That afternoon the CEO (Johann) called me and offered to personally deliver my order on Sunday (they are in Paarl – 76km away to my house)
- On Sunday morning Johann arrived with my 6 bottles of wine, and a bottle of Springfield Sav Blanc (yummy), and told me that when the courier eventually delivered my actual order it was mine to keep as well.
In summary the courier messed up my delivery (it eventually arrived on Monday – almost a week late), and Cybercellar gave me 7 bottles of wine as an apology personally delivered by the CEO on a Sunday.
And finally the lessons.
- As Johann and I agreed it was the courier that messed up (and not Cyberceller themselves), but we also agreed that as a customer it was not my problem who messed up. He took ownership and fixed the problem.
- You can turn a customer around by turning a negative experience into a positive one.
- Sh*t happens, but it is what you do about it that makes a difference. Service excellence is shown at its best when things go wrong.
Will I purchase from them again? Yes; not because of the order experience, but because of the amazing way they fixed the problem.
Finally, their website is great, they have a massive selection of wine, and you get R50 off your first order.
I am working with a large company in Cape Town on some web development. The total value of the project is in the millions of Rands.
Recently I contacted a potential vendor to set-up a meeting to discuss how they could assist and work on the project. They never responded to my requests. So we are not going to be working with them, and they have lost a potential huge customer and a lot of business.
I contacted three people to fix some damp in my house. One never got back to me, another quoted over 5 times the going rate for the job, and the other is finishing off the job today. This is while businesses are complaining about the “tough economy”.
Do you return messages? How much business have you lost because you did not get around to answering an email?
I have had my Amazon Kindle for about 18 months (6 months out of warranty), and a few weeks ago it started behaving strangely, in that whenever it went onto standby, it would crash.
So, I started a live chat with Amazon support on their website to see if we could resolve it. The short version of what happened is that they are replacing it with a brand new (not refurbished) 3G Kindle, at a total cost to me of $85, bearing in mind that my Kindle is 6 months out of warranty, and that the total cost of the order (include shipping and tax), is $210. They had no obligation whatsoever to offer me a $125 discount on a replacement unit.
The customer service staff were friendly, supportive and helpful. My new Kindle arrives next week.
Imagine if every company offered such great service.
What service do you offer?
I was queuing to pay at a shop the other day when my phone rang. I took the call and quickly hung up when I got to the front so that I could pay for my shopping. The shopping assistant was surprised that I had hung up to speak to her. She told me that it was the first time that had happened, and everybody else just carried on speaking on the phone while they paid; as if she did not exist.
I thought it was just basic manners to speak to the person serving you, and not to treat them as a servant. I must be in the minority.
How do you treat those around you? Are you in the minority?
Last week, I ordered a couple of cases of wine from Getwine.co.za. When the wine arrived, Getwine alse gave me a free 100g slab of Lindt chocolate. They didn’t tell me about it when I ordered, they didn’t tell me in the delivery note, the driver didn’t mention it.
It was just tucked quietly away inside one of the boxes. That is also not the first time they have done this.
- How do you give unexpected gifts to your customers?
- How do you keep your customers loyal?
- What do you do to get your customers to tell everybody about your great service?
Some tips I picked up from Gary (ex goal keeper for Manchester United) at our Toastmasters conference. Enjoy!
- Is a $1 billion business
- Has 300 million customers
- Delivers weekly to its customers
The principles of a good soccer team apply to business as well…
- Be tough- learns to takes knocks
- Build on gratitude
- Appreciate staff and all those around you
- Things go wrong for everybody at some time
- It’s how you deal with life, not what happens to you that is important
- Plan for the future
- Don’t send emotional emails because there is no emotion in email
- Make time for others
- Raise your energy
- Body; food & exercise
- Spirit; helping others
Dr Ali Bacher
spoke at our Toastmasters conference in May. Here are a few lessons from him.
- Return correspondence within 24 hours
- Brevity – 2 pages (both speaking and writing)
- Workplace structures are meaningless (my version is that titles are meaningless)
- Look after quality people that make it happen
- If you pay peanuts you get monkeys
- Keep your door open
- Promote performers
- Give responsibility to people you have confidence in
- Give small gestures of appreciation
- Be honest – never lie
- Never break your word
- Always settle out of court
- Never record your feelings at the time, wait until you have cooled down
- To learn respect, set the example
- Fly economy class with your staff!
- You have a responsibility to transfer your skills
- Things don’t just happen; be proactive