4 Steps to Always Say, YES! to Customers with Christine Trippi
In February 2022, hundreds of leaders from service businesses across the world gathered together online to take part in the Global Frontline Experience Summit, an event we are delighted to sponsor and host again after its hugely successful first run in 2020. It was a phenomenal event with a contagious heaping of inspiration, excitement and possibility for anyone working in the customer experience and frontline service space.
If anyone was going to keep the energy up for the last presentation of the Global Frontline Experience Summit 2022, it was Christina Trippi. Also doubling as the Summit’s energetic host, Christina rounded things with a bang (and a dash of pineapple) with her practical 4-step guide to always saying YES! to customers. Christine Trippi is an author, keynote speaker, hospitality consultant, and an award-winning hotelier who has been in hospitality for over 30 years, serving resort, full, and select-service hotels.
Christina kicks off her presentation with her intention: to teach business leaders and frontline teams to be a Wise Pineapple!
A wise what now?
Think about it, a pineapple stands tall, wears a crown and is sweet: the perfect combination to gain awesome customer experience results! Standing tall is about being confident with your customers. Communicating clearly, being proud and truly believing in the services you're providing. Wearing a crown is about being empowered. Too many frontline employees retire from their work because they’re sick of being treated poorly. Wearing the crown is about recognizing and celebrating the frontline and helping them feel good in the work they do. Finally, being sweet is about leading from the heart. Treating your employees, and your customers as a human being first.
So, how can you always say YES! to customers? What if the answer is genuinely no?
Say you’re a frontline team member at a hotel. A guest asks you if you have an airport shuttle, and you don’t… how do you say yes?
Christina proves, there is in fact a way. Here’s how…
Step 1: Make friends first
When frontline teams are confronted with customer questions they don’t have the desired answer to (e.g not having an airport shuttle when a customer asks for one), and they immediately jump to “no sorry”, the anxiety of the confrontation gets the better of them and they go straight into fight or flight mode. Their confidence shrinks, their smiles disappear and the associate or frontline worker feels like they’ve failed the customer.
Instead Christina says we must tap into leading from the heart. Take a deep breath, and connect with them human, to human first. Before the customer can ask the question, get to know them. For example “What brings you to Chicago?”. You may find out from that one simple question, that your guest is visiting for a marathon. You can then take that information and improve their experience based on their personal needs, like putting some muscle soak bubble bath in their bathroom for after their race. This puts employees and customers in a position where there is a level of mutual respect and trust, just like friends. When a tricky question comes up, the employee is better placed to answer with confidence, heart and sweetness.
Step 2: Focus on what you can do
You may not have an airport shuttle, what do you have? It’s important that your employee can offer positive solutions, and avoid saying “No” at all costs.
Customer: “Do you have an airport shuttle service?”
Frontline associate: “No sorry, we don’t” 🙅🙅🙅
Let’s try that again.
Customer: “Do you have an airport shuttle service?”
Frontline associate: “Thank you so much for your stay, we were thrilled to have you. We can get you to the airport for only $45 with a negotiated rate with a flash limo, or our airport and hotel is app friendly, so you can use Uber or Lyft”.
Step 3: Offer Options
Whatever you offer to customers, make sure to offer them options. For example, if you only provided Uber as an option to get to the airport, and the customer doesn't have Uber on their phone, you’re back to square one.
To decrease road bumps in the customer experience, provide customers with multiple options, and help them find the best solution for them.
“What would you like?” “What works best for you?” These are questions that put the power and choice back into the hands of the customer.
Step 4: Be Creative
As Charles Ryan Minton talked about in his presentation, you don’t want to tie frontline teams down to policies and procedures. Give your frontline teams the freedom to think creatively and find out-of-the-box solutions. This creates a sense of trust, accountability and empowerment, especially when you’re able to catch and celebrate those employees delivering awesome experiences.
Christine recommends sitting down with your frontline team to figure out what all your potential no’s are, and how to turn them into YES’s! Run through the scenarios - how can you make friends with the guest, how can you offer positive solutions and how can you go above and beyond?
It’s important to coach your frontline team on these benchmarks, and recognize them when they nail it to reinforce great behavior.
- Be like a Wise Pineapple! 🍍 Stand tall, wear the crown and always be sweet.
- Make friends with your customers. Start genuine conversations and start from a place of mutual trust and respect.
- Always lead with the positive. Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t do.
- Always offer customers a variety of solutions. Give them choice and put the power in the hands of the customer.
- Get creative! Coach your frontline team through scenarios, and recognize and reward them when they nail it (give them the crown).
A HUGE thank you to Christina for hosting the Summit and for her insightful and super fun presentation on how to always say YES! to customers. Keep an eye on the AskNicely blog for more deep dives into the presentations from the Summit, and be sure to join the Frontline Magic Community to be the first to hear of upcoming events in the customer experience and frontline service space.