What is your organization’s Achilles Heel? We recently came across a fantastic article https://www.forbes.com/sites/chipbell/2022/08/15/what-is-your-service-achilles-heel/?sh=388a0c8d28fc that can help your organization survive and thrive. Below is a summary of its contents. We encourage you to take the time to read the entire article. We promise it will be worth your time.
The Fall Of Achilles
“Achilles heel” originated in Greek Mythology when infant Achilles was dipped in the Styx River by his mom to prevent his death at a young age, as foretold by the gods. It left the heel she held him by entirely defenseless. He was later killed by Paris (aka Alexander) when he was shot in his heel with a poisonous arrow during the Trojan War. The cool story became our best characterization of vulnerability.
Wise organizations conduct service audits (with the help of customers) to spot glitches before they turn an otherwise positive customer experience into a dark memory. Here are five ways to avoid getting the “poisoned arrow” that can turn loyalty into abandonment.
- Use the Longstreet Technique
When John Longstreet was the general manager of a large hotel near Dallas, he realized his front desk queries and guest surveys were not giving him the intelligence he needed to spot his hotel’s Achilles heels. So, he held quarterly focus groups with the taxi drivers who frequented his property to transport guests from his hotel to the airport. The time was pre-Uber/Lyft.
He quickly learned departing guests were far more candid with their taxi driver than with the “How was your stay?” question routinely asked at the checkout counter.
- Hold What’s Stupid Meetings
Longstreet had another creative technique he used at his large hotel. On Friday mornings he held a “What’s Stupid” meeting with his hotel staff. It was not atypical for him to include a frequent guest or a regular vendor. The “anything goes” discussion enabled him to hear meeting attendees describe any policy, practice or viewpoint they perceived as “stupid,” especially those that impacted guests’ experiences.
- Be the Customer
There could be no more eye-opening learning opportunity than experiencing your service processes “like a customer.” When I worked with Ritz-Carlton Hotels, President Horst Schulze encouraged his hotel managers to visit other Ritz properties (as well as competitive hotels) to experience them more like a guest. “We cannot see our own foibles,” he would say, “But we are great at seeing the errors of others.” He was echoing the ancient proverb: “A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year.”
Find ways to authentically test your service processes.
- Ask the “One Thing” Question
Actor Jack Palance taught us in the movie City Slickers the power of “one thing.” Customers are too busy and lack the interest to answer many questions about their experiences. They ignore suggestion boxes as a useless exercise that never yields results. However, at the point of contact, there is often a chance to ask one simple question: “What is one thing we can do to make your experience a great one?” And there are many versions of that “one thing” question.
- Don’t Ask Unless You Are Serious
Research tells us that 95% of organizations have some way of soliciting customer feedback. About thirty percent take some action based on the input. But less than 5% respond to customers to let them know their input triggered an action.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has since 1999 been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. To learn more about avoiding lax screening procedures, Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com