‘I only have one sparkling water and one apple juice left’, offered Andrew on the Trans Pennine Express train from Liverpool to Newcastle.
‘Is that not water there?’ I asked.
‘Yes, but it’s not the free water’.
‘OK, can I just have one of those then?’
I’ll not bore you with the rest of the conversation – you can predict how it went.
After explaining to me, in great detail, why he ran out of free water (apparently it always happens) I asked him a simple question.
‘Andrew, are you empowered to just give me a bottle of water?’
It’s 5 minutes later and I’m typing this whilst sipping my warm £1.75 bottle of H2O and pondering what life must be like for Andrew. He’s a nice chap, quiet (actually very quiet) well-spoken and polite.
And when it comes to service he’s doing most things right.
However, his bosses could be doing so much more.
Just imagine if Andrew had said, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve run out of the complimentary water, so I’d like to offer you one of the ‘saleable’ bottles’. He could even have added, ‘they’re normally £1.75’, if he wanted to play the hero card.
The actual cost to Trans Pennine Express would have been about 50p. The deposit in my emotional bank account would have been worth a few more ridiculously overpriced First Class tickets.
When I ask Managers during our Five Star Service events if their staff are empowered, they always say yes.
So I ask, ‘How much time and money can they spend and what is the framework they use to make those decisions?’
Here’s the rub.
Without telling people exactly how much time can be spent, how much money can be invested and the framework / values to work within, staff aren’t empowered.
Even if you think they are, they believe they’re not.
I wrote a whole chapter on this subject in my book 5 Star Service. It gives a very clear framework and works with 99% of people in 99% of organisations.
It’s one of those surprisingly simple ideas that makes you think, ‘I know it – but I don’t do it’
You can buy 5 Star Service here. It’s the UK’s best selling customer service book by a British author and it’s packed with around 100 ideas to get you noticed, remembered and referred.