Live Your Life on Broadway

I was having coffee this week with my good friend, Willie. We were discussing the conscious act of making positive impressions with others we meet. He described his trips to the west coast to meet with his corporate teammates. “When I show up, I try to lighten the mood and lift them up. I usually get told how nice it is when I visit, that they really enjoy seeing me. They look forward to my positive spirit and support.”

It reminded me of my time working for a large retailer. I tried to instill the same attitude upon the staff as Willie did when he travelled to California. I urged staff to aim to “surprise and delight” our customers. Further, the doors opening each day was like the curtain rising on Broadway and we were theatre, actors on a stage. That was the image I wanted to convey. I asked them to imagine attending a Broadway play, one that had been in production for many weeks. As the weeks progressed, it would seem natural for the actors to be less enthusiastic than on opening night, but they work hard to dispel that notion. They know for certain that someone in that night’s audience is seeing their show for the very first time, and that audience deserves their best effort. That was the exact moment I was trying to capture and convey. Someone was standing at our door for the very first time. We must aim to surprise and delight them.

In the rough seas of retail, there are very few levers to differentiate the competition. There’s price, selection and service. Those are the three biggest levers. There is little argument that Wal-Mart is the EDLP leader (Every Day Low Price) and selection has become ubiquitous with firms led by Amazon.com offering just about everything to anyone.

Think back to those retail interactions when you were awed by the service you received. Maybe it’s just me, but those special moments stand out. I think that is because they are so rare. I’ve gone so far as to hand those special performers my business card, telling them to call me if they are ever searching for their next job. If nothing else, it’s a compliment to their outstanding service.

Each and every one of us has the chance to play a lead role in customer delivery. I challenge you to channel your energy and awareness for each customer interaction in an attempt to surprise and delight them.

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