5 Steps to Create More Amazing Moments with Your Customers (and How to Recover from Awful Ones)

Customer service is defined by moments. We all know that. Perhaps no one knows it better than Morton’s The Steakhouse, though.

A couple of years ago, Morton’s created an amazing “moment” when a gentleman named Alex from Morton’s Hackensack (New Jersey) met Peter Shankman at the airport with “a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of  Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, one of Morton’s famous round things of bread, two napkins, and silverware” — all because Peter jokingly tweeted earlier:

Peter Shankman Tweet for Mortons

You can read about it on Peter’s site here.

Peter’s not the only one who wrote about it, though. It blew up on social media and the web and even made it to national media outlets like CBS News.

Morton’s is getting a different kind of press this week, though, after a not-so-amazing (extreme understatement) moment with a customer right here in Nashville. Maybe you’ve heard about it.

It all started when Robert Chambers, a cancer patient, put on a hat when he was feeling cold. He complied when the manager asked him to remove it, yet a few minutes later, he and his entire party (he was there for a company Christmas dinner) were escorted out by police.

Wow. How does something like that happen?

“Our actions were uninformed,” said the COO of Morton’s in his apology. “There was a complete and total misunderstanding by our staff…”  (emphasis mine)

There you have it. That’s how something like that happens.

To Morton’s credit, they took responsibility for their mistake and they’re doing their best to make a “wrong” moment “right.” Of course there is no “right” here. You can’t rewrite history. You just do what you can do. In Morton’s case, they made a $2,000.00 donation on behalf of Mr. Chambers to St. Jude’s Hospital and they’re working with him to underwrite a cancer fundraiser. I don’t think they’re taking this lightly.

Mr. Chambers accepted their apology and said it’s time to move on, and so shall we.

But as we see with these two contrasting stories, once again the lesson is clear: This Moment Matters.

Knowing that, let’s not leave moments to chance. Here are five steps to help you create more amazing moments and fewer awful ones with your customers:

  1. Be present. When you step out on the floor, sit behind your desk, or get on the phone — anytime you’re facing a customer — you’re “on.” Choose to “be here now, and you can be somewhere else later.” Your customer deserves nothing less. Make it your intention to bring your best to each moment.
  2. Focus on what matters most. The Morton’s team in Nashville was admittedly “uninformed” about what was really happening in their restaurant a few nights ago. In other words, someone was not focused on what matters most. See your customer. Hear them. Understand them. If you want to amaze a customer, let what is important to them become important to you.
  3. Align with the key goals, values and principles of your organization. Morton’s literature says, “we offer a setting where people truly care about one another, and show it in everything they do.” To align with those values, then, means each worker must ask, “How can I — in this moment — create a setting where people truly care about one another and show it in everything they do?” It would seem that someone in Nashville failed to ask that question at a critical moment.
  4. Do the “right thing, right now.” Alignment — and intention — is meaningless unless it’s followed by the appropriate action. One reason the “Morton’s moment” in Nashville was shocking was because it was totally out of alignment with their reputation. They have been doing the “right thing, right now” for years — one moment at a time — so they’ve established a reputation that is consistent with their literature.
  5. Take responsibility. No one is perfect — not even Morton’s or Zappos or Nordstrom or any other customer service “hero” you want to cite. We all make mistakes, big and small. When you have one of those less-than-magical moments, all you can do is apologize, take responsibility for your actions, and then go through this process once again: Be present. Focus on what matters most. Align with key goals, values and principles. Do the “right thing, right now.” That doesn’t erase the error, but it puts you back on the right path.

And in closing, Mr. Chambers offers some pretty good customer service wisdom himself:

“It’s about empathy and how people are treated regardless of the situation.”

Well said.

photo credit: Lynn (Gracie’s mom) via photopin cc

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