My business partner and I were conducting a customer service workshop for the amazing housekeeping staff of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. They are called “Environmental Services” at the Center. The small group task we assigned each of the five table groups was: “What does ‘respect’ look like to your customers and colleagues?” Respect happens to be one of the Javits Center’s new service standards. Many of the participants only spoke Spanish so we used a translator. The spokesperson for a group of largely Hispanic participants said (in Spanish), “Respect is making everyone feel like it is a day at Disney World.” The class applauded at his deep insight!
We think of Disney moments as all about delight, fun, or magic. Only a brilliant person would read “respect” into such an experience. Yet, respectful service is fundamentally about creating customer experiences laced with esteem. It is grounded in a deep devotion to the customer and the customer’s welfare. It is confident deference to customers without the slightest hint of servitude.
Now, here is the best part about customer respect. It is the very core of what the wise housekeeper was communicating. Respect is borne of enormous pride in one’s role and workmanship manifested as a kind of invitation to the experience. It is as if the service person is saying to customers, “Come witness and experience my excellent work, crafted just for you.”
If you asked your customers to characterize their service experience when dealing with you, would “respect” be a part of their description? Before delight is viewed as authentic and before extraordinary is seen as real, there must be obvious respect woven throughout.