Recently, we had an extremely cold day here in Colorado Springs. We woke up to about an inch of snow on the ground, temperatures in the single digits, and a wind chill of about -15°F. It was so cold that the local schools had a 2hr delay to keep the kids from being outside. As I was getting ready to start my day, enjoying a hot cup of coffee, I heard the rumble of the trash truck outside. I didn’t think much of it. It was Thursday, which is a trash pick-up day in my neighborhood, and the service is usually done by the time I get up. I figured they were running a bit late due to snow on the ground, and didn’t really give it any more thought until later on when I carefully walked down my driveway to drag the trash bin back behind my fence. Stuck to the trash bin was an envelope, and in it a Christmas card. “How nice!” I thought – “the trash company gave us a Christmas card.” I was impressed! It is December, and customers often receive holiday cards from their service providers, favorite stores, or vendors, but we usually find them in our mailboxes or electronic inboxes, not hand-delivered! I looked around my neighborhood and saw other trash bins, and they all had an envelope stuck to them. I realized then that the truck driver had to get off the truck in front of every single house and personally stick the card to every single trash bin. There are over 200 houses in my neighborhood! That’s what I call dedication to showing customer appreciation, in sub-zero temperatures and icy conditions.
I walked into my house and opened the card. To my surprise, it wasn’t a corporate card from the trash company. It was a personal, hand-written card from the truck driver himself! Now that was impressive!
I admit I don’t know this man. Well, now I know his name – Anton – but that’s it. He has a tough job: he gets up very early, his work is physically demanding and performed in less-than-ideal conditions, to put it mildly. Definitely one of the jobs that could earn a spot-on Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs. What’s more, Anton is usually done before most of us even get up. The most contact he has with his customers is a nod or a wave as they drive by his truck on their way to work. Yet, he took the time to personally write and deliver a card to every house in the subdivision.
What is it that people like Anton possess that make them exceptional? What drives them to go above and beyond the call of duty and delight their customers, even when they don’t have to? These employees take ownership of their customers’ experiences (even something as mundane as trash pickup) and ensure the customers come back or continue using the service, even though a competitor might be more affordable. They know how to make their customers feel special and turn them into raving fans. But is this something that can be taught during training, or is it something innate, something you have to have first in order to do well in this line of work? I am a firm believer that most people are kind and gracious, and want to make others happy. This doesn’t mean that everyone is cut out to work in a service-oriented job though. Yes, you can train people to deliver good service, be polite, even smile when they’ve had a bad day, but will they genuinely and repeatedly step up to make customers feel valued? I believe that having this trait, the so-called ‘hospitality gene’, is what makes people like Anton stand out. This is what drives them to provide those extra steps and really add value to their organization. Even for inexperienced employees, or those new to the service industry, possessing this characteristic makes training to deliver your intended customer experience faster and easier.
If you’re a hiring manager reading this, you know it’s not easy to find and hire people who fit this description, but using hiring tools, such as pre-employment assessments, can significantly increase your odds. Assessments and structured interviews can identify candidates who possess the necessary competencies such as customer focus, hospitality orientation, teamwork, and positive mindset that will ensure a consistently delivered customer experience. These tools will also save operators time, standardize your hiring process, and mitigate legal risk.
Most Corvirtus Customers are in the hospitality business, always on a quest to hire those with the ‘hospitality – or service – gene’, because they know these employees will increase sales, build guest count, create actively loyal customers, and reduce operating costs – just to name a few. In short, they know the key to running a successful business lies within their people and they’ve been turning to Corvirtus assessments and other selection tools for over three decades to build amazing businesses.
Understanding the heart of service is the first step to hiring for it – download our whitepaper to learn more about the “service gene”.
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