When my husband came home and informed me that his company party was at the zoo this year, I had mixed feelings. In one way, it would be nice to visit the world-famous San Diego zoo (and not have to pay for it!) but it’s been so hot recently that the idea of walking around in the heat with the lovely smell of the animals was not that appealing. But of course, I couldn’t not go, so I put on my happy face and decided to make the best of it. To my pleasant surprise, I had a wonderful experience as a customer at my city’s landmark zoo!
People make the difference
One of the main reasons our experience was so enjoyable was the attitude of the many volunteers placed strategically around the Zoo to help customers. At every turn, there was a volunteer standing nearby with a big smile on their face and a willingness to help. I was so impressed with the consistently positive attitude from every volunteer that I started watching the volunteers interact with other customers to see if they were that pleasant to all customers—and they were.
A leader’s role
Let’s be clear that this type of behavior doesn’t just happen—it takes leaders to create this positive experience by training and empowering volunteers to serve guests. Wondering what you can learn from this zoo tale? Here are 3 quick tips to learn from our friends at the San Diego Zoo.
- Hire people with a positive attitude. You can tell that the San Diego Zoological Society works hard to find people who like interacting with others. Are you matching people’s strengths to appropriate positions in your organization?
- Set people up for success. Remember, they ARE your organization to each customer they come in contact with. Make sure your people have the training and authority to serve and delight customers.
- Catch people doing things right. A simple acknowledgement or a pat on the back goes a long way.
It’s all happening at the zoo
Next time you are visiting San Diego, be sure to visit the Zoo. And not just to see the animals. Be sure to also check out the volunteers. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in either—and you might just learn something to take back to your organization!
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.