Everything Counts


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Recently I was in Banff Alberta for a client conference. As part of the programming there was a golf excursion planned to the Banff Springs Golf Resort. This was an exceptional opportunity to play on one of Canada’s most picturesque courses — and it was included in the invitation to the conference.

The day was warm and dry and the views on every hole were spectacular. Surely, this was going to be a day to remember. No matter how badly I golfed, what could possibly ruin a day like that?

At 11:40 am we approached the pro shop/restaurant before staring the back nine. We were greeted by the sight and smell of hamburgers grilling on the outdoor barbecue. Just enough time to stop for a quick bite before heading off to play the back nine. Could it get any better?

When our foursome approached the counter, I asked for a hamburger. However, I was told there were no hamburgers — just hot dogs and sandwiches. When I mentioned that not more than 20 feet away was an outdoor barbecue grilling up hamburgers, the response was “sorry, those are for staff.”

Incredulously, I asked to clarify; the hamburgers were staff only, but customers couldn’t have any.

At that point, the person behind the counter indicated that if I wanted a hamburger, it would be a 15 minute wait while the kitchen prepared some. Not to be dissuaded, I asked if I couldn’t just have one of the ones off the grill 20 feet away.

The Manager was consulted and I was told it would be about 3 minutes for my hamburger. However, it turned out to be the 15 minutes initially promised — and it was a kitchen grilled burger on a cold bun versus one from a barbecue.

My Perspective: So what was one of our memories from the round of golf?

I am totally in favour of treating your team well — in fact, I encourage it. If you are not treating your team well, how can you reasonably expect that they will treat your customers well. But as a customer at one of Canada’s premier golf courses — at a cost of $225 person — I can’t forget being told I couldn’t get a hamburger while staff was lining up in plain sight to get fresh burgers off the barbecue.

As luck would have it I was golfing with the founder of the organization and the head of the UK group — and the key focal point for their conference was building an engaged team that delivered an exceptional customer experience. There were representatives attending from the USA and New Zealand as well.

I couldn’t have asked for a better demonstration on just how critical the front line people are in the organization.

Not only did this experience demonstrate to my fellow golfers the impact of a poor customer experience — but it was subsequently used as a story by the founder in his opening remarks later that night. At least 2 other speakers referred to it and it was discussed throughout the conference as an example of what not to do.

How would someone on your team have handled a similar situation? Would they have rejected the customer request outright — or would they have looked for a way to create a memorable situation.

Does your leadership encourage initiative — or must everyone follow the rules?

Does your team demonstrate a customer focus or do they simply do the least possible?

Was this poor leadership or poor staff initiative? We’ll probably never know — but it’s amazing how a hamburger experience left a bad taste in our mouth about the entire experience. And how that experience can spread around the world in a matter of minutes — even without the aid of social media.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Hogg
Bill Hogg works with senior leaders to inspire and develop high performance, customer-focused teams that deliver exceptional customer service, higher productivity and improved profits. Sought after internationally as a speaker and consultant, Bill is recognized as the Performance Excelerator because of his uncanny ability to create profound change and deliver extraordinary results with the most demanding organizations.


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