The Daily Grind
We daily encounter situations where private and professional environments provide us with signals and impressions. You just get that ‘Feeling’!. It starts off when we are young: We fall in love for the first time. Everyone can relate to this feeling of having ‘butterflies’ in our stomach. We don’t really understand what triggers such sensation, but it sure feels good! As such impressions are of intangible nature, we like to refer to them as our “Gut Feeling” or instincts – giving you a sense of an overall state of either yourself or your immediate surroundings.
Unfortunately, as we grow older, such sensations fade away. Life experience seems to teach us to become more pragmatic and think in a more logical and consequently somewhat monotonous manner. And so then in our professional context it just happens all too often that whenever those feelings arise – mainly due to missing factual evidence – we brush such feelings aside. This might be due to ignorance but most likely rather due to a lack of time.
But what about that Gut Feeling?
Have you ever strolled through your operation having the impression that something was off or wrong? Well, I can tell you that whenever you did have such a feeling, the chances are pretty high that something actually was really not right. You just didn’t pay sufficient attention and listen carefully enough.
Why? Because ever mounting pressures in our day to day work life makes us lose focus. Just think about the impact social media has on our company’s e-reputation and how we, as managers, are expected to react and manage this emerging feedback almost instantly. Or think about the transparency of data and financial results imposing us to somewhat micro-manage operations in order to ensure that we always have a response when that daily phone call about “what happened yesterday” comes in…And don’t even get me started on dealing with all those emails that are tying us to our desks instead of being close to the customer (what happened to the “Let’s figure it out around a cup of coffee”, by the way…). Those are just three aspects from a glut of other emerging challenges and pressures of this new operational era that have emerged over the past 15 years.
Not falling into the daily grind trap as mentioned above is difficult, but we need to learn to persist and pause every once in a while. We need to breath – consciously! Then we need to learn again how to step back and prioritize. A constant refocusing is what we should be learning (instead of multi tasking) to enable us to be efficient. Pausing and analyzing what really counts in operational life (especially in hospitality and the service sector!) is what we really should be doing to make an impact and leave our footprint. And so spending time on the floor and soaking up the activity with all of your senses is the right thing to do, especially in this day and age of increased competition in highly fragmented industries.
Peter Drucker (a Management consultant, educator and author) put it in the following way:
And so listening to our gut (which we also refer to as our second brain by the way, and rightly so!) or our instincts are a vital part of life and what we should be doing as managers and leaders. Not acting on them will eventually prohibit us from performing and deteriorate the customer experience.
Customer experience = customer perception (or the accumulation all those micro-impressions with your products or services).
So ask yourself:
What do I want my customers to walk away with?
If you can feel something is off, do you think your customers can feel it?
Favor the Irrational over the Rational
Challenge and confront yourself with not only those aspects of the business that can be associated and/or explained with everyday rational thinking processes, but get in sync with those intangible impressions where the answers sometimes do not become evident or lie on the hand.
When we cannot get get to the bottom of such feelings, we should take a moment to reflect on them, for example by sleeping over that feeling or impression, or by asking peers and even customers for their impressions on that specific aspect of service or product quality.
It’s about these impressions and reacting upon them that will eventually make the difference and that will help you to fine-tune your operation. For further reads on a similar topic, visit my post on Strategic Think in Delivering Exceptional Customer Experience here.