Part Four in the “Ruby Service Pyramid” series.
In the past few months, you’ve been introduced to the basics of the Ruby Service Pyramid: “Be Prepared with the Right Infrastructure” and “Do What You Say You’ll Do.” With this foundation in place, it’s time to get to the fun stuff – and this month’s post is on “Fostering Happiness,” the third principle of the Ruby Service Pyramid. Mastering these first three principles will put you head and shoulders above your competition and help you gain loyal customers.
Because hardly anyone’s doing it, and people are craving it. Forrester Research recently declared this the “era of the customer.” No longer is price the deciding factor. People are fed up and looking for a better experience. And when they do, it’s been shown they are willing to pay 13% more on average than they would for the same product or service they get elsewhere minus the happiness.
The principle of “Fostering Happiness” in the Ruby Service Pyramid is a practice to engage in at all times, by all staff, with everyone they are in contact with – customers, of course, but first and foremost, employees. A recent article on CNN.com referenced a study that shows that happy employees are “39% better in sales, 31% more productive, and make 19% fewer mistakes than their less happy counterpart.” And to foster happiness in others, it certainly helps for you to be happy first!
Strategies to foster happiness vary depending on the opportunity you face:
Win someone over.
The opportunity to make someone happy who is clearly not can make a significant difference in their day. The first two principles of the Service Pyramid should keep these situations to a minimum, but when they arise, they create the largest opportunity to foster happiness. The most important thing when someone is frustrated is to make sure they feel heard, followed by sympathizing with them, and what you’re going to do to make things right.
Sprinkle happiness into ordinary situations.
At Ruby, we believe professionalism doesn’t mean stuffy; it should be infused with friendliness and charm. When interactions are transactional and brief, you can still turn them into day-brighteners with a healthy dose of cheerful enthusiasm and adding plenty of positive words and phrases. “Absolutely” and “It would be my pleasure” are great substitutes for the word “Yes,” and eliminating the word “No” whenever possible keeps the happiness meter redlining. Look for opportunities to infuse happiness by identifying common touch points customers have with your company.
Celebrate the good stuff.
Developing systems to recognize and celebrate the positive events in your customers and employees’ lives is a simple and effective way to deliver happiness. Personal events like birthdays, weddings, and new additions to the family can trigger a group gift or handwritten card. Staff can be on the lookout for landmark achievements such as winning a prestigious industry award or inking a deal with a big time customer and congratulate them with a gift basket or bottle of wine. At Ruby, we’re not above “cyber sleuthing,” and in addition to good old-fashioned conversation, we use Google Alerts, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to find these opportunities.
Perform random acts of happiness to delight and “WOW.”
Ahh, the really fun stuff: doing something completely out of the ordinary for no other purpose than to make someone happy. A customer unexpectedly receives a gift certificate to the restaurant you learn is both of your favorites. Another is surprised to learn that the service she asked you to perform is “on the house” today because you recognized her day was a challenging one, and you wanted to alleviate a little pressure. A coworker arrives to see an energy bar on her keyboard as a result of you overhearing the trouble she has remembering to eat breakfast. Performing these acts once? Easy as pie. Getting your entire organization to consistently find these opportunities and act on them? That requires an entire culture driven to make others happy and relentlessly dedicated to empowering, incentivizing, and rewarding these delightful acts.
Hopefully we’ve whetted your appetite to delve deeper into ways to foster happiness in your customers and employees alike. Stay tuned, as detailed articles on each of these strategies are coming soon!