A 2019 survey from TINYpulse found that the No. 1 driver of employee performance is the level of support provided by managers. But what does this “support” look like? It goes beyond technology, incentive programs, and popular employee benefits.
At its core, this means focusing on the individual; giving each person the opportunity to project their voice, share their vision, and feel like a real part of the organization they serve. It’s about creating a two-way commitment based on a foundation of trust and integrity. It’s this approach that drives employees to go beyond the basics of customer service. A story was recently shared that reminds us how critical this can be.
Satchel Smith, a 21-year-old employee at Homewood Suites by Hilton, recently worked 32 hours straight to care for guests during intense flooding in the area. Smith, who typically only works one day a week in order to balance his time with college, chose to work overtime as heavy rain caused rising waters that disrupted travel for residents, including his coworkers. The employee who was supposed to take over for Smith messaged him shortly before to let him know that she wouldn’t be able to make it due to the weather.
The storm was intensifying, leaving Smith single-handedly responsible for the hotel’s 90 trapped guests. He decided to step up and manage the hotel in a shift that lasted 32 hours, from handling fire alarms that were going off due to malfunctioning computer systems to serving breakfast to guests the next morning.
We’ve seen these amazing feats of customer service across several industries:
In August, a cable customer service representative saved a man’s life from over 900 miles away by detecting signs of a stroke on the phone and dialing 911.
In June, an employee at Universal’s Islands of Adventure soothed a boy with autism when a ride broke down right before he was ready to get on. She laid down with him while he experienced a meltdown, and then took him to a giftshop to buy some trinkets.
In my personal career I have worked to deliver this kind of “above and beyond” service. For example, several years ago a 7-year-old girl had misplaced her stuffed animal at one of the properties I was working at. I found it and took it around with me, taking pictures of it as if the toy was a guest enjoying all the different areas of the hotel. I signed a card to the girl that said I (written as if in first person by the toy) was traveling and how much I missed her. I had my entire team sign the card as well. The parents called and could not thank us enough. While this certainly can’t compare to the heroic acts of employees who were in life or death situations, it was something I’ll never forget.
Employee engagement is so much more than reaching a team’s potential, driving operational efficiencies or increasing revenue. It’s about the people within your organization establishing meaningful connections with those who reach out to your brand. Sometimes, it’s not only about ensuring the customer’s satisfaction but protection and wellbeing.
Can it be argued that the cable customer service rep and Islands of Adventure employee are just good people who wanted to do the right thing? Of course. But as managers responsible for the No. 1 driver of employee performance, it’s critical that we take our role seriously. Our willingness to go above and beyond for employees translates into their willingness to exceptionally serve customers.
Celebrate each employee within your organization for what they bring to the table, knowing that their efforts can go far beyond the routine basics of customer care. At any given moment, your employees may have to go beyond the call of duty.
How are you engaging and empowering them to do so? Ask yourself: are your employees just numbers, or do you see the “s” on their chests?