The Ordinary Heroes of the Taj

July 7, 2013

One of the world’s top hotels, the Taj Mumbai is ranked number 20 by Condé Nast Traveler in the overseas business hotel category. The hotel is known for the highest levels of quality, its ability to go many extra miles to delight customers, and its staff of highly trained employees, some of whom have worked there for decades. It is a well-oiled machine, where every employee knows his or her job, has encyclopedic knowledge about regular guests, and is comfortable taking orders.

Even so, the Taj Mumbai’s employees gave customer service a whole new meaning during the terrorist strike. What created that extreme customer-centric culture of employee after employee staying back to rescue guests when they could have saved themselves? What can other organizations do to emulate that level of service, both in times of crisis and in periods of normalcy? Can companies scale up and perpetuate extreme customer centricity?”

The preceding quote is from the latest “DFS Learning e-Blast” article, The Ordinary Heroes of the Taj by Rohit Deshpande and Anjali Raina.

In this December 2011 article in Harvard Business Review magazine, the authors tell the amazing and true stories of the terrifying events of November 26, 2008 and the remarkable reaction of the Taj employees and managers.  They explore the culture of the Taj and explain how we can think about strengthening our own customer centricity to help our teams be ready for any customer need – large and small.  It is all about the power of staff attitude in a service organization.

More from the article:

“We believe that the unusual hiring, training, and incentive systems of the Taj Group—which operates 108 hotels in 12 countries—have combined to create an organizational culture in which employees are willing to do almost anything for guests. This extraordinary customer centricity helped, in a moment of crisis, to turn its employees into a band of ordinary heroes. To be sure, no single factor can explain the employees’ valor. Designing an organization for extreme customer centricity requires several dimensions, the most critical of which we describe in this article.”

Read the short article to learn more!

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments to join the discussion!

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Three Ways to Ingite ‘A Player’ Engagement

June 23, 2013

There was once a time when “because I said so” would have sufficed.  Those times are gone – especially if you’re committed to drawing from the best talent that this world has to offer you.  These are the people with the confidence, creativity and innovative spirits to speak up and maybe even offer alternative approaches and solutions.”

 

The preceding quote is from the latest “DFS Learning e-Blast” article, Three Ways to Ignite ‘A Player’ Engagement, by Martha Finney.

 

In this April 2, 2012 article on the HR Career Success website, the author helps managers understand how to effectively lead top talent.  As DFS continues to attract and develop top talent the author’s advice becomes critical.

 

Whether a first time manager or a senior executive, or any level between, you are likely leading a group of talented individuals looking to you for inspiring leadership.  If you follow the author’s three tips, you will find you are along the path to success.

 

More from the article:

 

“As a leader of A Players, you have to be an A Player yourself.  You must bring the same passion for innovation, exploration and personal challenge to your job that you expect your people to bring to theirs.”

 

Read the short article to learn more! 

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments to join the discussion!

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please follow, subscribe using RSS, and/or comment on my postings.


Unleash the Power of Customer Relationships

March 24, 2013

 

Building a sustainable Customer Culture takes courage, commitment and hard work. It is solely through Customer Culture that we establish and sustain the inspirational humanistic environment that builds mutually beneficial customer relationships. The unfortunate alternative to building a rich Customer Culture is the current luxury and retail business model where nameless sales people sell luxury products and services to anonymous customers, all in the course of a one-time soulless transaction.”

The preceding quote is from the latest “DFS Learning e-Blast” article, Unleash the Power of Customer Relationships, a white paper created by The Luxury Institute.

In this January 2012 white paper by The Luxury Institute, you will read about the seven critical steps the Luxury Institute espouses for luxury brands to build Customer Cultures that will dramatically increase customer and associate acquisition, retention and referral rates.

As all of us at DFS continue to evolve our approach to developing, delivering and measuring a true luxury customer-centric culture, this article serves as a wonderful reminder of the reason for our quest and challenges us to critically assess our strategies.

More from the article:

Do it for your brand, do it for your associates, do it for your customers, do it for society, but most of all, do it for yourself. Building a true Customer Culture in your organization will dramatically enhance your own life experience. It will transform you from being just another business executive into a happy and thriving human being who enjoys a meaningful life with a far greater purpose than the pursuit of money. Ironically, the sales and profits will follow.

 

Read the short article to learn more!

 

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments to join the discussion!

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The Courage to be Bold

August 10, 2011

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Have the Courage to be Bold 08-09-2011

August 9, 2011

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Hanifin Loyalty blog.

Is your company bold? Does your company have the courage to be bold? At the recent Customer Relationship Management Conference, Shaun Smith, author and partner, Smith & Co., spent an energizing morning talking to attendees about what defines a bold organization and how its boldness manifests itself in how it relates to customers, prospects and employees alike.

Bold firms share the following characteristics. They…

  • Stand Up – They know what it is they believe in;
  • Stand Out – They are remarkable and different;
  • Stand Firm – They build communities for employees and customers to create sustainability around their brand.

Why is it so important to be bold in any one of these three ways? It’s because “Purpose” is to be considered the fifth ‘P’ of marketing. Now more than ever, companies need a raison d’etre to stand out and be compelling for their customers and prospects.

Mr. Smith shared an example to illustrate each point:

Stand Up:
The main value of the Six Senses resort in Maldives is concern for the environment and for an exquisite customer experience. When guests arrive by seaplane, they are given a bag for their shoes in keeping with the “no news and no shoes” policy. There is no television or any sort of outside access because the purpose of this resort is luxurious relaxation. In respecting the environment, they are vigorously devoted to a recycling and reuse program. Fifty percent of profits they’ve made from their own purified water go directly to parts of the world where there is no access to fresh water. All this reinforces the brand message of “intelligent luxury.”

Stand Out:
Burberry stands out because it engages in infectious communication. They create “wow” in as many ways as possible in their customer experience. Their artofthetrench.com has 400,000 loyal customers who uploaded pictures of themselves onto the site. Also, they brought the masses to the runway by having 3D fashion show screening events, showing these same fashion shows real time on the internet and added the ability to order Burberry product from an iPad app.

Stand Firm:
Zappos “stands firm” in that they walk their talk. They are committed to their culture, not only with how they interact with their customers, but also how they engage with each other inside the company. Culture is so important to Zappos that if it appears during training that a new hire will not be a good cultural fit, they will give that person $2,000 and terminate the relationship. From real time engagement with customers on social platforms to quirky office meetings and recognition activities within headquarters, Zappos is able to continually reaffirm its corporate identity and stand firm as it recommits to its values.

Discussion questions:  What defines a ‘bold’ organization? Is the treatment of existing customers, prospective customers or employees most critical in building a ‘bold’ enterprise?

My post:

The reason this subject keeps repeating itself is due to the fact that most retail leaders continue to ignore the painfully obvious:  Bold approaches to service start with leaders with a bold commitment to exceptional employees.  Paraphrasing the brilliant approach at a bold (though non-retail) purveyor of extraordinary service, Ritz-Carlton:

  1. Have leaders who believe the vision in their hearts and model that belief with everything they say and do.
  2. Select the best employees and support them in every way
  3. Consistency and repetition of the core beliefs and values

You could also call this courageous leadership.  Courage to have, know and continuously strengthen your organization’s values and reason for being.  Courage to understand what it takes to be exceptional in your business – leaders and staff alike – and consistently hire and train for this.  Courage to never waver from either, despite any and all obstacles.  Stand up, stand out, and stand firm indeed!  So simple and yet so elusive.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

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Go to the full discussion at Retailwire.com:  Have the Courage to be Bold

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Controlling the Customer Experience

June 29, 2011

DISCUSSION TOPIC

The A.P.P.L.E. Way 06/20/11

TOPIC SUMMARY:

The Wall Street Journal just did an interesting deep-dive on the Apple retail stores, interviewing current and past employees and obtaining some of their training manuals. One of the things that stuck out for me was the fact that they aren’t really relying on some technology advantage – it’s about carefully controlling the customer experience. For example, they use the acronym APPLE as follows:

A – Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome.
P – Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs.
P – Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
L – Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
E – End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

Nothing high-tech about that at all. Each employee receives at least 40 hours of training to ensure they know the products and understand how to treat customers. They are not on commission and earn a typical $9-$15/hr or around $30/hr at the Genius Bar.

And the results are an impressive $4,406 per square foot. To put that in context, compare it to Tiffany at $3,070, Coach at $1,776, and Best Buy at $880.

Other retailers have tried to emulate the model, but no one has seen success. Apple is Apple, and they did exactly what worked for their business. No one else is Apple, so no one else should copy their stores. But retailers can and should be inspired by Apple’s success and strive to find ways to improve their own customers’ in-store experience. And it doesn’t take a ton of technology.

Discussion question:  What can other stores learn from Apple’s employee training methods and customer service guidelines?

My post:

Apple’s incredible margins and focus around specific and limited product makes the job of creating extraordinary customer experiences the norm. However, the lesson for all retailers is the focus, passion and willing to invest from senior leaders that drives the consistent execution. It is not necessary to emulate everything Apple is doing. The key is to learn from them and apply SOMETHING to your approach that will make a difference in the experiences of your staff and for the customer.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

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Go to the full article at Retailwire.com:  The A.P.P.L.E. Way

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Passion for Retailing – Even Now!

January 26, 2009

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Why Young People Should Opt for a Retail Career 1/26/09

TOPIC SUMMARY:

In an effort to look at the bright side of life, anyone managing to launch a retail career nowadays will have the excitement of unsurpassed opportunities to persuade shoppers to shop. If they can find a job in the first place, that is.

The challenges partially explain why “over half of career advisers still see retail as a good sector for young people to work in,” according to new research commissioned by Skillsmart Retail and reported in Specialty Food Magazine. According to the survey, despite the recession, 51 percent of career advisors considered retail to be a better place for young people to work in than five years ago, when the economy was booming.

The report showed that retail comes out on top when compared to the hospitality and finance and banking sectors in the development of useful workplace skills, provision of opportunities for employees of all ages and the prospect of being given responsibility at an early stage.

Skillsmart Retail’s chief executive, Anne Seaman, reminded the magazine, “Career advisers are very influential in helping young people make choices about jobs in different sectors. Because of this, it is good to know that they believe retail is a better place to work now than in 2003 – in spite of the current financial climate.”

Discussion questions:  What do you think of retail as a career? In what ways can the retail industry improve how it recruits talent?

My post: 

I have been a retailer for over 25 years and have loved my career and hope to remain a retailer for years to come.  Why?  Retail is a complex, dynamic business with an incredible diversity of areas to focus on.  Finance, accounting, merchandising, management/leadership, design all have important roles to play in a retail business.  It was this diversity that attracted me to the industry and which has kept me passionate and energized for over 25 years.

I highly encourage high-energy, bright and ambitious young people to consider a career in retail.  Few industries offer a faster track to meaningful responsibility – running a complex business, managing people and financial resources.  For the entrepreneurially minded, an early career with an established well-run retailer provides an amazing foundation for going off on your own in a few years.  For those who thrive in a company environment, the upward opportunities are amazing.

Don’t allow today’s economic difficulties to thwart a desire to get into retailing.  There will always be consumers wanting an amazing shopping experience.  Why not be one of the people who make that a reality in the future?  And don’t limit your thinking to just one country.  I’m an American now working in Hong Kong.  The opportunities are endless for those willing to work hard and keep their options open.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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Go to the full discussion at RetailWire.com:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/13507

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