It’s Not My Fault!

Posted March 12, 2018 by Scott Brown
Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Business, Human Resources, Management, Success

Tags: , ,

After a loud crash from upstairs I can recall one of my daughters yelling, “It’s not my fault!” This deflection of blame usually occurred before I even know what happened or before I ever had an opportunity to raise my voice. All that was important to my girls at that time in their life is that they were not held accountable for anything that might be wrong.

The more I study people in work situations, the more I realize that people never really grow up – they just grow older. Often the things we reprimand our children for are the same things we struggle with as adults. Being accountable is certainly at the top of the list. Why should you be accountable? In the words of your parents, “because I said so, that’s why!”

How many of you feel at least somewhat responsible for some of the problems at your place of work? I’m sure some of you do – at least sometimes. More often you probably feel the problems you experience are the result of your boss, your customers or the random assortment of people who work with you. You aren’t that one that’s too lazy, complaining, underachieving, overachieving or causing problems in general – you are the epitome of all things that are good!

Sometimes the people around you can be the cause of daily difficulties. But if we convince ourselves that everyone and everything (besides ourselves) is the cause of our problems – and never hold ourselves accountable, we will never give ourselves the opportunity to be introspective and grow professionally or personally.

Why do you think water coolers have become unofficial meeting rooms? It’s not because everyone loves water so much. People love water coolers because they became a primal watering hole of humanity where people can whine and moan about the people, procedures and policies in your company that make things so bad. It is around the water cooler where people can fan the flames of discontent. If you’re not careful, you’ll be standing around the water cooler of life complaining for all of eternity. It’s an endless cycle that becomes very difficult to break. So break it now!

If nothing else, don’t join the parade of complainers and start being accountable for yourself and improve things when and where you can. All you have to do is change the way think and good things will start to happen. What have you got to lose? And as my mom always says, “try it, you might like it.” She just might be right.

The Heart of Service

Posted September 2, 2012 by Scott Brown
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

Good service can be achieved with decent hiring practices and a few motivating words from time to time.  Most businesses are quite content to strive for good service.   If the employees aren’t rude, say “please” and “thank you” and maybe even tuck in their shirts – managers are usually thrilled.  Good service is in fact acceptable and for most operators, simply knowing that their service is “good” allows them to worry about more pressing and urgent matters of operating an entertainment facility. 

But this article isn’t about delivering “good” service, it’s about exceptional service.  Exceptional service requires an unrelenting focus, a conscious effort and the willingness to make service not simply something you do, but the core of who you are.  Some businesses will say the effort is not worth it.  Others simply don’t have the knowledge of what needs to be done.  Regardless, it starts with understanding that if you want to be exceptional, then you can’t be willing to settle for good.

So where do you start if you want to take it to the next level?   While there is no single policy, procedure or training session to magically create a culture of world-class service in your business, there is one concept that will help build the foundation and get you moving in the right direction.   The concept is understanding why you do what you do.  Sounds easy, right?  For most, it’s easier to overlook than to embrace. 

Yes, you sell tickets and pizza and birthday parties and tokens.  But is that really what you sell?  With a  little introspection you’ll realize that your guests don’t give you money for a ticket or token, they give you money for what those items will provide – fun!  I’ve always asked that if you invite guests to your business to play for free, BUT they are not permitted to have fun, how often would they come back?  They answer is they won’t.  Ultimately, the only product that you have to sell is fun.  Without fun, all you sell is stuff.  Fun is why you do what you do.

Exceptional service requires your employees to emotionally connect with what they do – they have to buy in.  Unfortunately it’s not something you can demand of your employees.  But it is something you can cultivate and nurture.  It can be difficult to emotionally connect with repetitive tasks like sweeping litter or fixing token jams, but you can help your employees connect with the idea that (other than safety) their job is to facilitate a fun, memorable experience for the guests.  This simple observation suddenly provides your employees with a new perspective and a much more fulfilling and exciting job experience.  When you know that you’re not just selling stuff and completing mundane tasks, but you are part of a larger experience and creating memories for guests that will last a lifetime it’s easier to find the personal motivation.

As an operator it is your responsibility to incorporate this idea into everything you do.  Think about how you can incorporate fun into these tasks (some will be more challenging than others):

  • Interviewing/Hiring
  • Training
  • Performance reviews
  • Phone communication with Guests
  • Party booking procedure
  • Birthday Parties
  • Signage
  • Prize Counter
  • Social Media
  • Website

These are just a few areas to contemplate.  But as I mentioned, the reason why you do what you do must be an integral part of the fabric of who you are.  Get your team together, brainstorm, dream and be willing to take chances.

If you consistently give your team something to believe in, a purpose, they just may be willing to become the team that you know they can be and take your business to the next level.

Stop Apologizing And Just Make It Right

Posted October 24, 2011 by Scott Brown
Categories: Uncategorized

I’m not sure exactly when this started or when it became acceptible, but it seems to have recently reached new heights. What am I talking about? The Quick Forgive-Me Apology.
Apparently it’s all the rage. I know professional athletes use it whenever they’re arrested or have their integrity compromised.
It goes like this, as soon as you’re caught doing something wrong, immediately apologize for the infraction, look saddened by your mistake and say that you’ll do better next time.
At this point, the accusing party is supposed to say, “Oh, that’s okay, everyone makes a mistake from time to time. You’re forgiven.”
Businesses seem to have caught on to this trend. In the last week I’ve seen this technique used at least twice as managers dismissed their customers with this trite technique.
I watched as a customer approached a manager in a restaurant with a complaint, only to receive a Quick Forgive-Me apology and a “pat on the head” as they were told, “we’re doing our best.” I’m not saying we shouldn’t be forgiving, I’m just saying we all (businesses included) need to be accountable. As a consumer, don’t ask for more than you deserve, but don’t accept the brush off with a Quick Forgive-Me Apology.
If you like the business that has made the mistake, hold them accountable and help them improve. If you don’t like them… Well, accept their apology and find a business that delivers more than just lip service.

Hard To Find, But Nice When You Do

Posted December 20, 2010 by Scott Brown
Categories: Attitude, Business, conference presenter, Customer Service, Management

Tags: ,

A little Christmas shopping and dinner out with my wife last night.

Pretty much what you’d expect at this time of year – parking spaces were hard to find, crowds packed the walkways and there were long waits at restaurants.  But, remarkably, the service we experienced throughout the evening was exceptional.

Like you, I get tired of experiencing and writing about bad service, so I’m glad to have this story of a Christmas miracle to share with you.

Our evening started at the mall.  In and out of store after store looking for that perfect gift without knowing exactly what we were looking for.  At one of our last stops, my wife was browsing through stacks of sweaters when an associate came over and asked if she could help.  My wife explained who we were shopping for and provided a few additional details.

Almost immediately the associate took a sincere interest in helping my wife find just the right item.  She even recruited her co-workers to help.  They were all making suggestions and leading my wife around the store to highlight the items that they thought would be appropriate.  The search finally paid off and our experience ended with the perfect gift, smiles and the cashier taking a few extra minutes to package up my wife’s purchases so they were ready to be delivered.

We decided to end our successful evening of shopping with dinner at a nearby restaurant.  The restaurant was packed but our waiter had energy, enthusiasm and the attitude of ownership.  Like the associates at the retail store, he wasn’t just doing his job.  He was actively engaged and enjoying his work.

An evening that started with apprehension about heading out into the pushing and shoving of Christmas crowds turned into a great evening that really demonstrated what the holiday season is all about – caring.

It’s not always easy to find service-providers who care about what they do – but it sure is nice when you do!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and remember the greatest gift you can give to family, friends… or customers is to let them know that you sincerely care.

Customer Service with a $3 Disposal Fee

Posted November 5, 2010 by Scott Brown
Categories: Business, business trainer, Customer Service, Management, Marketing

Oil Changes.  You know the routine – get one every 3,000 miles or your car will fall apart (at least that’s what they say).  Lots of places offer them so I assume it’s a pretty competitive market.

In my area, prices vary based on range of services offered and how quickly they service your vehicle.  Prices typically range from $16.99 up to $35 when you get all the bells and whistles.

There’s one company though that really rubs me the wrong way.  In order to stay on the low-end of the price scale they offer oil changes for ONLY $19.99 mumble, mumble mumble…with a $3 disposal fee, mumble, mumble.  That’s how they say it – with a little hidden voice, like I won’t notice it.  That just ticks me off.  If your oil changes are $22.99 – fine.  Just tell me that’s what they cost.  As I always say, exceptional customer service isn’t about saying, “please” and “thank you.”  It’s about everything you do, including your marketing.  While I wouldn’t necessarily call this deceptive advertising, it certainly isn’t customer centric.

If you want me to trust you, to do business with you – be honest with me.  Until then, I’ll continue to get my oil changes were they don’t mumble their price to me in a disclaimer.

Why Does Customer Service Go Bad?

Posted November 5, 2010 by Scott Brown
Categories: Business, business trainer, Customer Service, Management

Why does customer service go bad?  Scott’s brief video explores some common management misconceptions about what it takes to deliver exceptional service.

The new Social Media world!

Posted October 21, 2010 by Scott Brown
Categories: Uncategorized

The new Social Media world!

Tourism and the Customer Service Experience

Posted September 20, 2010 by Scott Brown
Categories: Customer Service, Marketing

Tags: , , ,

Before visitors arrive at your tourist destination, their decisions are often based on flashy marketing material, websites and possibly a few advertisements in travel magazines.  But what about after they get there?  What happens then?

Your visitors’ perspective changes from expectations to experiences.  Once your visitors check into their hotel or bed and breakfast, it’s time for your entire community to deliver on all of the promises made in your marketing materials.  Your visitors are no longer anticipating a great time – they are expecting it!  They’re ready for all of those great memories, amazing meals and “kodak moments.”  Does the beautiful brochure highlighting all of the incredible attractions, restaurants and landmarks seem less attractive when they meet the surly waitress working at the restaurant or the completely disinterested desk clerk at the hotel?

Your marketing will get them there, but it’s the service experience that will keep them coming back.

The efforts of most Convention & Visitor Bureaus (CVB’s) is often limited to attracting new business to the destination by building up expectations in the minds of prospective visitors.  Pictures of sunsets and sidewalk cafés in brochures and on websites create mental images about the wonderful times that await our travelers.  But what can you, as a CVB, do to ensure that the visitors’ experience is indeed picture perfect?

Some innovative CVB’s are so dedicated to delivering a consistent service experience that they have created programs to certify their member businesses to ensure service excellence.  The certification process can include training for management as well as frontline staff, mystery shops and more.   One such program is the Service Excellence Experience (S.E.E.) program based in Ottawa County, Ohio.  This innovative program is an endeavor of the Ottawa County area Chambers and Visitor Bureaus.  Ottawa County is a highly traveled area in Northwest Ohio is nestled up on the Lake Erie shore and welcomes millions of guests annually.    The S.E.E. program puts members through a rigorous certification process in order to be declared a “S.E.E. Certified Business.”  This coveted title is designed to showcase businesses that are committed to the highest levels of service and to ensure visitors to the area that they will experience the finest their area has to offer.

Creating expectations is good.  Delivering experiences is best!  Make sure that all of the hard work that went into getting people to visit your destination is not wasted by a series of disinterested, or at worst rude employees that just don’t understand (or care) how important that one visitor is to the economy and growth of your destination.

Commit to excellence and you just may receive it.

To learn more about the S.E.E. Program you can contact Denise Ventrone at .

A Medium Drink and Large Customer Service

Posted September 1, 2010 by Scott Brown
Categories: Attitude, Business, Customer Service, Management

Tags: , , ,
Sometimes it seems a bit mundane to write an article about someone performing an act of exceptional customer service.  Sure, it’s great when you get to experience great service, but there are literally tens of thousands of customer service professionals that create tens of thousands of magic moments for their guests every day.   But for me, exceptional service isn’t about Nordstrom taking back a set of snow tires – as the tired story goes – or about dealing with customers that are screaming and yelling about an unfair policy.  It’s often about small, sometimes subtle gestures that really demonstrate a sense of caring.  Exceptional service starts with an attitude, not an action.
I experienced that customer service attitude today in the form of a medium sized paper cup.
I was out running a few errands, when my friends called and asked if I would be willing to pick up lunch.
I said, “sure” and they replied, “that’s good because we just faxed our order in to Chipotle.”
Ironically, I just happened to be right in front of the restaurant so I immediately pulled in to Chipotle and walked in.
When I gave the cashier my name and told her that I was there to pick up an order, she immediately apologized because the order wasn’t completed.  Somewhat shocked, I reminded her that they had literally just received the order 3 minutes before, but the cashier continued, “we’re working on it and will have it ready in just a couple of minutes.”
“Here,” she said as she handed me a cup.  “Feel free to have a seat until your food is ready and enjoy a drink on us.”  Just a drink.  I didn’t ask for anything.  I wasn’t upset – there was no reason to be.  She gave me a free drink for no particular reason… except that she cared.  By the time, I filled my cup the cashier called out my name and said, “Your order is ready.”
Well done Chipotle.  Love your food and love your service attitude!

3 Things About Finding Purpose In What You Do

Posted June 22, 2010 by Scott Brown
Categories: Attitude, Business, business trainer, conference presenter, Customer Service, Human Resources, Management, Success

Tags: , , , ,

In an ideal world, we would sleep for 8 hours, work for 8 hours and have 8 hours to whoop it up.  I know it doesn’t work out that way for most of us, but for the sake of argument let’s forget about those 8 hours for sleeping which leaves us with 50% of our day at work and 50% of our day at home.

Considering that you spend half of your “awake life” at work, it amazes me how many people are truly unhappy with their job or career choice.  I don’t think it has to be that way.  I find that for most people, simply understanding that what they do matters can make all the difference.  So here are 3 things about finding purpose in what you do.

1.  Understand the Purpose of your Company

Many years ago, when I started to create training programs for the amusement park that I was working with, I focused my training on how to operate cash registers, how to fill out forms and safely operate rides.  It wasn’t until I realized that the only product we really have to sell is FUN that my training programs began to focus on our true purpose – which is “fun.”

When questioned about why they are in business, most business owners and managers will reply, “to make money.”  Unless you are a professional counterfeiter – that just isn’t true.  You fill a need for your customer better than anyone else and they give you money for your product or service.  That fulfilled-need is your purpose.  Every business has a deeper purpose.  The challenge is for you to understand how you fit into that purpose.

2.  Understand YOUR value

Many employees see their value based solely on their hourly compensation.  I will not argue that your compensation is incredibly important, but your value is not determined by your paycheck.  Your value is determined by how you value your contributions.  Whether you are well compensated or donating your time, if you understand your significance, you know your value.

I can guarantee that you are worth more than you know!

3.  If you just don’t like what you do – QUIT!

Unless you are receiving paychecks like LeBron James, you aren’t making enough money to be miserable at your job.  Put in your two-week notice, bust your tail over the next two weeks and make them miss you when you’re gone.  Good economy or bad, there are jobs out there that you can be passionate about.  Be persistent and find your place.

Find passion in what you do or find a job you can be passionate about.  Either way, you’ll feel fulfilled when you discover the purpose in what you do.

The reality is, life is too short and the work day is too long to live any other way.

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