As someone who creates and facilitates a ton of training each year, “getting to know my customers” is a critical part of how I deliver training that works. One exercise I like to use starts by asking participants where they’ve had excellent customer service experiences. It’s always refreshing to hear so many stories of what shops, grocery stores, and even baristas people are fiercely loyal to because they are a ‘known’ customer. It’s nice to walk in for your morning coffee and the person serving you knows your order. It’s great going to a gas station and the person running the pumps asks how your day is going. For me, I am fiercely loyal to my favorite vacation destination for that same reason. Not only do they get to know us as customers, we truly feel at home. Just look at this fabulous send off from our last trip!

With a nod to today’s celebration, I’d like to share a few best practices that have served me well when creating programs for both staff and leadership:

  1. Secret shop prior to any meetings on site. The more I can relate to what my clients’ customers experience, the better I can design their front-line training.
  2. Leave my agenda at home. Go in to every pre-training meeting with open ears, closed mouth, and a blank sheet of paper. This way, I will know that the objectives I am setting are my customers, and not my own.
  3. Leave my expertise at home. The time to know everything is not at the beginning of a project. The more I listen to leaders and identify what their contributions are (or can be) the more I can help a site grow by filling in the missing pieces later.
  4. Look for hidden talent. I approach every leadership development program with the thought that everyone in the room knows something I don’t. My job is to unearth the hidden talents that are waiting to be shared.
  5. Find the uniqueness of every customer site. Every location offers something that sets them apart from their competition. Highlighting the strengths and individual character of a site helps front line people feel connected to something special and unique that, in turn, helps drive individual performance.