Yesterday I attended a fantastic seminar #GetPaidToSpeak that provided insights and a great education on what it takes to transform into an articulate and engaging public speaker in the league of Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill of the famous ‘I have a Dream’  and ‘Blood Sweat and Tears’ fame respectively.  Given that I am currently on a vicious weight loss battle with some 10kgs that snuck up on me in the past few weeks that I need to chuck off with a vengeance, I had posted on a wonderful FaceBook group that I belong to, my consternation about attending the seminar where there would be delicious, scrumptious, delectable and absolutely tempting cakes and pastries whispering out to me to pick them off their platters and savour them.
A cheerleader in the group posted something that struck me mightily. He said “Carolyne you need a game plan now, otherwise you will be blind-sided and hijacked by tomorrow’s events. Awareness is critical. Tomorrow, the devil will show up, so how are you arming yourself today for tomorrow’s  victory? I’d say bring your own snacks; call people that will be there today and tell them of your intentions tomorrow; make a point to post tomorrow morning on the group post how you look forward to tomorrow’s  victory; eat a healthy breakfast  before you get there; inbox a couple  of people here your number so we can send encouraging/check up text messages.  DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO ENSURE VICTORY!”

And with Sammy Mureithi’s words ringing in my ears, I got a hold of all my weapons and ammunition and went to war. And when at breakfast they offered tea and warm vanilla cake, I got out my Uzi sub machine gun in the name of a banana and shot down the offer of cake. At the mid morning tea break when the platters of cinnamon rolls, tea scones, cookies and chocolate doughnuts were passed around I removed my G3 rifle in the name of an oat bar and shot them dead dead dead. At lunch time I hid in the bushes and did not attempt to make my way towards the enemy front line in the name of the dessert table and stuck to my soup, salad and baked potato and finally at 4pm during the afternoon break when madeleines, black forest slices and honey filled crepes were served, I raised my AK 47 Assault rifle in the name of an apple and brought down the enemy and threw up my arms in victory! I had come for battle prepared, and I had conquered!
You may be wondering at this point where I am going with all this rambling about fruit and guns and delectable desserts.  Well, at the end of my victorious war, I thought seriously about the ‘battles’ we need to wage in our wars to ensure unsurpassed customer service and ensure we deliver what is best for our customers. Are we going into war prepared? How comprehensive is our level of awareness of our customer service ‘battles’? Are we cognitive of when our queues are highest, when our customer surges happen, when most of our service failures occur?
Have we conducted an analysis of when we receive the most customer complaints? What the trends are and what the trigger factors for the dips in service levels are? If it is a Hospital or Hospitality situation, is it the check out process that is commonly a painful experience and when is it at its worst? If it is in a service industry situation where a teller experience is required like a bank, supermarket or telco care center situation, when are the queues longest? At what point of the day and at which period in the month? These are critical customer service touch points that have the potential to make or break the customer experience and customer brand evaluation rating.
Careful analysis of the trends will enable us go into ‘battle’ prepared and leaving no room to chance. The ammunition in these instances being for example, ensuring the shift rotas  during these periods are adjusted to enable availability of more tellers to provide quick service, more waiters on duty to provide quick service, having multi skilled staff move from the back office to the front office to assist bust queues and return to the back once the surge dissipates, having the manager or supervisor walk about in the customer areas to quickly assess the situation and call in back up resources as needed, find out customer needs, prioritize quick turnaround requirements  or reassure customers as and when needed.
Just as with any area in life, there is absolutely no excuse for mediocrity.  And in sync with the much touted Pareto principle, 80% planning and 20% execution is the age old requirement. We need to know and understand how our businesses work and plan for peak times complete with a plan A, B, C and D to ensure service is seamless. And as per Sammy’s advice, a business needs to do WHATEVER IT TAKES TO ENSURE VICTORY!

So good people out there, bring out your APPLES and GUN down poor customer service. VICIOUSLY!