O Captain my Captain...
One of my favorite movies to watch is a movie called Dead Poets Society. One of our truly great actors in my lifetime, Robin Williams, performed his role masterfully as a young teacher who challenged the establishment with his out-of-the-box thinking and teaching methods.
One of the more compelling scenes in the movie was when Mr Keating (Williams) challenged his students, as he stood on his desk looking out over the room, to constantly look for opportunities to see life from a different point of view than the norm, to challenge the status quo and opportunity to be complacent. He had each student climb up on the desk and stop and look out over the room as well to see things differently than they were use to. It was a valuable lesson, and is the point of the story below.
I had a wonderful conversation this week with a friend of mine, a business owner, about this same topic. We will call him Bob. Bob just recently bought an auto repair shop business that is established, and in a busy area with a great location. One of the things that Bob wanted to accomplish right away was to change the culture of customer service within the business. There are many shops around the area and Bob knows that how his employees treat those that come through the door will determine the fate of his business.
So Bob wanted to do an experiment. He knew what he wanted to accomplish, and also knew what existed for his customers as they walked in his front door. But Bob wanted to see how others did it. He wanted to see what customer experience existed was when someone with a car problem walked in the front door of one of the "big boys" and their big boy marketing and training budgets.
So he visited two national chains and he learned quite a bit by walking in both. One provided exceptional service while the other was less impressive. There is a reason the "big boys" spend the money they do on the training of their front line employees, and Bob knew that. It is often said that if you want success, find someone who has achieved success in the field that you are pursuing and copy them. Some of his findings he will incorporate into his shop's culture.
Bob knew he needed to look at things from the customers point of view. He needed to be able to be in the customers shoes and understand how it feels to be at the mercy of the expert on the other side of the counter. Because he "climbed up on the desk" and saw things from a different perspective, he has found new ways of making his shop better. Kudos to Bob for his foresight and vision. Seize the Day Bob!