When I hear someone tell a story, I am usually interested. I was listening to an audio book about marketing and a couple of customer service stories shared, have been rattling around in my mind. Stories are powerful ways to teach and are the things people often remember, even more than facts, rules or step-by-step instructions. The author shared how Nordstroms is known for its customer service and gave some examples of employee excellence. How did these employees learn to act this way? Why did they go above and beyond? Does it hurt or help the bottom line of the company to act this way?
In one of the stories a Nordstrom customer brought back some tire chains that apparently were not even sold by Nordstrom. I have done that before, not on purpose, but brought something I bought back to the wrong store, only to hear, "I am sorry sir we don't sell those shoes here." Then it hits me, I bought them at that other store. "Well, I guess I will go shop at the other store since I have to go there anyway," I think to myself.
Well, this Nordstrom employee returned the tire chains and gave the customer a refund. Nice!
I have heard that one of the mandates from Nordstroms during training is to, "Use good judgment with customers." Then they tell stories like this one. Talk about trust and believing in your employees.
In the second example, one of the Nordstrom employees was out in the parking lot warming up the car, in the dead of winter, for a customer. No one has ever warmed my car up for me. I am still waiting for this to happen. Maybe I need to shop at Nordstroms.
When you train your employees through stories and examples like these, it feeds the creative side of your brain and allows your mind to naturally fill in the gaps to find your own solutions. The wheels in your mind begin to spin and you go through different scenarios and find out how you can incorporate these stories into your daily work. When the time comes to act on their own the Nordstrom employees can recall the story and use good judgement to guide their actions.
On the opposite end there are companies who train with step-by-step instructions. 1. Smile and look the customer in the eyes. 2. Greet them with a happy hello. 3. Ask them if there is anything in particular they are looking for. 4. Be available for them if they have questions. 5. Be ready to ring them up.
Stories tend to help people rise to the occasion and allow them think independently, and then decide how they might do something similar. Step-by-step instructions tend to put people's creativity in a box and stifle personal growth and creativity.
I love to share stories with clients when doing therapy and when I am doing seminars or speaking engagements. More often than not you will retell a story to someone versus step-by-step instructions.
My hope is that Emmalee's story will send you mind on a creative journey and ideas will flow as to how you can love more deeply, serve others more diligently or just gain new ideas as to how to be a better person. What would you do if you were diagnosed with cancer? Would your thoughts turn dark? What if my child were diagnosed with a terminal illness? How would she cope? How much information would you share with your child about their diagnosis?
I have received so many e-mails and feedback from people who have read Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee and been changed permanently. I know you will be a different person after you read her story.
Steve Havertz, LCSW, is the author of Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee. He has been a licensed counselor in the mental health field for over 20 years. The end of the book has helpful advice about how to cope with a loss and what not to say to those grieving. It can be purchase on-line at amazon.com and on-line or at stores Barnes and Noble and Deseret Book, bn.com and deseretbook.com.