Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.


March 2008
« Feb   Apr »

Archive for March, 2008

Will the show really go on?

Just did a customer service training session in Platteville and the response to one of the questions I asked led to this entry.

One of the key components of the Disney approach to providing exceptional customer service is the concept of ‘show’. They even use theatre terms in their business including referring to employees as ‘cast members’ who are ‘cast for a role’ instead of being hired. Over the years I’ve noted that when it comes to ‘show’ most business people really don’t get it. I think I’ve finally realized why. These people have never done any live theatre. They may have attended a performance, but when it comes to knowledge of what happens backstage and onstage they are almost completely clueless.

The question I asked was this, “How many of you have ever worked on a theatre production?” I ask that question at each of my customer service workshops. I’m lucky if one or two people out of 40 will raise their hands. So how can I expect the participants to understand the concept when they have never experienced it? Sort of like my understanding of cricket. I can spell it but I’ve never even seen it played other than snippits in tv shows or movies. I’m completely clueless on what it is to play and experience cricket.

I just finished reading an entry of Presentation Zen that brought this back to mind. ‘Show’ is essential to the Disney approach to customer service yet the best that most of us can do is spell it.

Roy Scheider played a character based on Bob Fosse in the movie “All That Jazz”. Each morning he exited his shower, turned off the music he had playing and greeted the day with a loud and confident, “It’s showtime!” Wonder how many people never got the significance of that?

Many believe that our economy is moving from a service model to an ‘experience’ model. My only question is, “Will the show really go on?”

New Ideas or Variations on a Theme

While in Madison yesterday my daughter and I went to a movie at one of the 10 screen theatres. Nothing remarkable about that but as we were leaving another of the screens was also ending and instead of the usual younger viewers this audience was distinctly different. Older, well dressed…did I really see some suits and ties or has my memory tricked me? What was going on here? And the hall was literally flooded with this group. What movie attracted that audience and in those numbers? What was I missing? I looked at the sign over the door and it said, “Metropolitan Opera.” Huh? There’s a movie about the Metropolitan Opera and it actually drew a crowd?

This morning an article in the online NYTimes caught my eye. At Cineplexes, Sports, Opera, Maybe a Movie detailed a new acceptance for live simulcasts of special events at theatres throughout the country. I know that’s been done for sporting events but the Metropolitan Opera??

New idea or variation on a theme…I don’t think it mattered to the crowd that was in attendance. Now if every business thought like that…!

Taking a Risk

Just reviewing the comment sheets from participants at two training sessions I conducted yesterday. I’m happy to say that the vast majority of the comments and ratings were favourable. In fact more than a few were very generous in their praise and many gave the ultimate compliment by listing one or more items that they were going to immediately do as a result of our session.

But as any trainer or leader knows you certainly can’t please all the people all of the time. One person in each session gave me & the presentation the lowest marks possible. They were really really displeased with the session content and the presenter. A complete miss. A complete waste of their time. (Ouch, that hurts…..and admit it, you’d feel the same way.)

So what does one do? Well first you look back to that “can’t please all the people all the time’ phrase and then remind yourself that it’s true…..very very true. And your chances of displeasing someone rise with your willingness to take risks. As a presenter I am very animated and enthusiastic. I don’t go for half the loaf. Not every person’s cup of tea to be sure but no one ever falls asleep in my sessions either. By taking those risks I try to shake up my audience and get them to think differently so they will consider accepting and acting on the changes I am suggesting.

The same is true with anything you try to do as well. As we get out of our comfort zone and try new ways to improve customer service or adopt new ideas to build our communities and businesses we have to remember that not everyone will like the changes. In fact, some folks may even get upset and if we are fortunate, they will voice their opinions. We need that feedback.

But we also need to keep in mind that many more people may accept and even welcome the changes although they might not be quite as forthcoming in expressing those feelings. I’ve seen too many groups who immediately change or stop everything when they run into one negative comment. They’re scared to death and not wanting to offend anyone, they risk (and do) nothing.

But with great risk comes the potential of great reward. I would even argue that rewards at any level will only be ours if we are willing to take risks and accept the results, both good and bad.

The alternative is to do nothing and that’s a risk I’m unwilling to take.