Do your people have permission to cut up the watermelon? 3 strategies for empowering employees

I love being pleasantly surprised, especially when it comes to customer service experiences.  I had one of those experiences a couple of weeks ago when I was visiting my son at college.  Let me share what happened and what I learned about the impact of empowerment as a result.

My son goes to school in the small town of Pueblo, Colorado.  I was in town for his football game and wanted to buy some easy-to-eat food for a pre-game tailgate party. I thought fresh fruit would be nice, so I headed to the produce department at a local Albertson’s grocery store.

I found some watermelon that was already cut up and ready to serve.  It looked as if it would be ripe and juicy, but being a spoiled Californian when it comes to fruit, I decided to ask a young man who was re-stocking some vegetables what he knew about the watermelon.  He told me he hadn’t tasted it himself, so he didn’t really know, but immediately asked me if I would like to taste it for myself.

At first I said, “No, that’s okay,” but he insisted I try it, saying it was no problem at all.  Since he seemed so genuine, I took him up on his offer.  He then asked me to wait just a minute and said he was going to go in the back and cut some for me and he would be right out.  Through the small window of the door to the back room, I watched him get a watermelon, cut it open, section off a couple of center slices, put them on a plate, grab a napkin, and then walk back out to me.

It was delicious!  Once I tasted the watermelon and gave him my sign of approval, I proceeded to tell others around me how good it was—and I still am, weeks later.  I became a Raving Fan of Albertson’s because of that short interaction—I felt so good about how this young man took it upon himself to make my experience a positive one.

Are you and your team creating Raving Fans?

So what can you learn from this kid from Pueblo, Colorado? As a leader, keep these simple tips in mind to surprise and delight your customers.

  • Remember that it is everyone’s job to deliver service. Never miss an opportunity to deal with a question or situation in the moment whenever possible. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that customer service is someone else’s job.  To the extent you can, serve the customer in the moment.
  • Let employees know they are encouraged and allowed to use common sense at work. This young man didn’t spend ten minutes trying to find a manager to get permission to cut open the watermelon—he just did it.
  • Look for ways to surprise and delight your customers. I never expected this young man to help me to the extent he did. I was completely surprised by his ownership and creativity—and he made a big impression on me as a result.

Your service is only as good as your people.  Are your people empowered and encouraged to serve customers?  Don’t miss an opportunity to create Raving Fans for your company.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results when you do!

About the author:

Kathy Cuff is one of the principal authors—together  with Vicki Halsey—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program.  Their customer service focused posts appear on the first and third Thursday of each month.

5 thoughts on “Do your people have permission to cut up the watermelon? 3 strategies for empowering employees

  1. I just love these short and always interesting articles. They give me a ‘brain-break’ for a few minutes and (often, very often) help me pull my socks up and see things from a different angle. Thank you.

  2. Reblogged this on disrupt learning! and commented:
    And now for something completely different…
    I’m reblogging a post from the Blanchard LeaderChat page today. It is completely outside of my typical ed tech type of post, but every now and then I like to include a leadership post. Leadership is a big interest of mine, both in education and out, and I think Kathy Cuff’s post here is really worth reading. What are you doing to empower your employees?

  3. Pingback: Do your people have permission to cut up the watermelon? 3 strategies for empowering employees « College on the Square

  4. Pingback: A curious mix of leadership topics - LeadBIG | LeadBIG

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