One of my high school jobs was working at The Gap. This wasn’t just any ol’ Gap, though! I worked at The Gap in Orlando, Florida just off International Drive. Yes, that’s right, I was folding t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pants just down the street from Mickey and friends at Disney World.
In other words, I was working in one of the most tourist-filled locations in the city.
Pretty quickly, I learned to recognize the sound that every employee hated: the sound of a tour bus stopping outside. We’d see the buses roll up, hear the brakes squeak to a stop, and instantly be filled with dread. Because in our eyes, that bus wasn’t full of tourists; it was full of people whose sole mission for the next hour seemed to be destroying whatever store they came in contact with.
Customers would pile out of those tour buses and into our store. One by one, they’d pick apart our displays, pull clothes off the hangers in a whirlwind, turn our dressing rooms into a chaotic mess, and leave a tornado of items in their wake. All I saw when those buses rolled in were the piles of clothing I’d have to put back into that perfect Gap fold when they left.
Each time those buses rolled up, our team was deflated. Those tourists were a nuisance to our employees and a nightmare to our store. And at the end of it all, they rarely made a purchase! What was the point in trying to welcome them when we knew they were just going to make a mess and we weren’t going to make a sale?
Our boss, Carlos, would gather our team each morning for a huddle before we opened our doors. He knew the sound of those tour bus brakes, too. He probably dreaded the work of cleaning up after those customers each and every time they came in. But if he did, he never showed it. Carlos made it his goal to serve them with a smile. He went above and beyond to make sure they were welcomed, cared for, and helped, even if it meant watching them unfold every single shirt on the display.
Likely picking up on his employees’ disdain for those tour bus customers, Carlos challenged us with his perspective during one of those morning huddles.
“We get the privilege of serving people from all over the world. We get to make them feel special and help them find the perfect souvenir for their trip. With each shirt you re-fold or re-hang and with each dressing room full of clothes you restock, just know we are here to serve the customer.”
My fellow Gap employees and I had an established set of attitudes about this group of people coming off the tour buses, and that changed the way we operated and worked when they were there.
But Carlos had a different attitude. He established a different set of beliefs about those people, and it changed the way he operated and worked while they were there. For him, the attitude changed the experience for the better.
Attitudes have the power to do that, don’t they? When we hold an established set of beliefs about something or someone, it impacts our attitude toward them. And ultimately, that attitude impacts our actions.
Sometimes, it’s easy. You’re serving a customer who is grateful, appreciative, and easy to help. You’re doing good work, and your boss is pleased. You show up to work with a great attitude on those days because you’re focused on doing the work you do well. It all seems to be falling into place!
Until it isn’t. Because other times, it isn’t so easy. Reality comes at you hard. Customers are rude, people are difficult, everyone is complaining, and it seems like nothing is working the way it should. Then, the attitude shifts. And suddenly, showing up to work eager to make an impact isn’t so simple.
I get it! Whether you’re dealing with a bus full of messy tourists or one frustrated customer on the phone, sometimes having the right attitude can be a challenge. But part of creating an exceptional customer experience is knowing how to shift to the right set of beliefs that will impact your attitude for the better no matter what.
It’s in choosing the right mindset.
For more on Mindset and to learn the 4 Mindsets for an exceptional Customer Experience, grab your copy ofThe Power of Customer Experience and check out the book club video series and user guide for your team.