|The Answer’s Yes
I hate the word “NO!” I can’t believe how many people from so many companies use it. It should be stricken from the English vocabulary. That may be a little severe, but it certainly should be stricken from any Customer interacting employee’s vocabulary. I was speaking at a prominent hotel in Las Vegas and ordered room service when I got to my room. When asked if I wanted fries or coleslaw as my side, I inquired if I could have a side of fruit. The person’s response was a quick and unfriendly “NO, fries or coleslaw?” Since fruit is offered as a dish on the menu, NO was obviously not the correct answer. A more Customer friendly answer may have been, “certainly, while you cannot substitute the fruit for your side dish, I can add it to your order if you would like.”
Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, headquartered in Columbus Ohio, has 14 different restaurant concepts in eleven states. They have not only removed the word NO from the vocabulary of the over 4,000 associates, they have one of the best service brand promises that I have come across: “The answer’s yes. What is your question?” Cameron himself created a brilliant metaphor that the company’s service philosophy is founded on. It is known as the “Milkshake.” Legend has it, several years ago Cameron was a customer with his family at a restaurant and his son asked if he could have a milkshake. The server said “NO!” There’s that word again. Cameron, knowing that the restaurant has ice cream, milk and a blender all at their disposal couldn’t fathom why someone wouldn’t accommodate a guest when it was so simple. So the Milkshake became an icon to remind everyone in the organization about finding a way to say “Yes.”
The Milkshake has grown into a life of its own at Cameron Mitchell. The company does an incredible job with the constant awareness of what the milkshake represents. They start every company meeting with a “Milkshake Toast,” they have a “Milkshake Award” given to the associates who best demonstrate the spirit of their service brand promise, “The answer’s yes…what’s the question?” If you walk into any of their locations, it is likely you will see several associates wearing milkshake pins, milkshake icons on posters, memos, training material and pictures.
To start, ensure that every employee understands that there is NO worse crime that they could commit than saying that horribly offensive two-letter word “NO.” Are there times when you absolutely cannot accommodate someone’s wishes? Certainly. That is why you must do two exercises as an organization. The first exercise is consider all the common situations that may arise that are difficult for you to say “yes” to and work on creative alternative responses to each. By doing this, your employees can be trained to make your customers feel like their request was granted, similar to my “side of fruit” dilemma. The second exercise is to create a metaphor that is similar to Cameron Mitchell’s milkshake. Then advertise the hell out of it to your entire organization, on a daily basis through recognition, signage, awards, and other themes. Empowering everyone in your company to do whatever it takes to deliver genuine hospitality.
Heather Buck has over 25 years in the hospitality industry with humble beginnings as a dishwasher in high school. Through her role as the Director of Training and Guest Services at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants (a national multi-unit, multi-concept hospitality organization with over 4,000 associates), she has the unique opportunity to infuse training with the direct feedback from Guests. Heather is also a lecturer at The Ohio State University’s College of Education & Human Ecology for the Hospitality Management Program.
The DiJulius Group is thrilled to have Heather Buck presenting two breakout sessions at this year’s Secret Service Summit September 29th & 30th in Cleveland, Ohio.
Breakout Topic: Service Culture!
Breakout Description: How do you cultivate the environment of service within your organization? Come learn how education and training can strengthen and enhance your team members. Heather will provide examples of how to maintain a service culture in a high paced environment with a focus on how each individual plays a role in success.