Think about the last time you made someone’s day. It could have been something so simple, but it was clearly a surprising “wow” moment for the other person, leaving a positive impression on them. Yet, at the end of such a day, who feels the best? The day-maker does. And that is exactly what the top world-class customer experience brands do. They build, encourage, recognize, and give the resources that create the types of employees who constantly go above and beyond. This is why these brands consistently have the highest employee engagement. Building an above and beyond culture will drive your employee engagement.
The Day-Maker Dopamine
I like to call it the “day-maker dopamine”, which refers to a phenomenon often discussed in psychology and neuroscience. When we engage in acts of kindness or altruism, it can lead to a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. And it absolutely has a place in the modern workplace.
This effect has been referred to as a “helper’s high” and has been studied in the context of why people feel good when they help others. The idea is that engaging in altruistic behavior activates the reward centers in the brain, leading to the release of dopamine, which in turn creates a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction. As it turns out, it is a key driver of both employee satisfaction and best-in-class customer experience.
How to Wow in the Business World
The ability to go above and beyond–for customers and co-workers alike–allows your employees to put their unique fingerprint on the experience. This fosters creative autonomy, allowing them to come up with their own ideas and exercise their brains in a way that they hadn’t been before, giving them a sense of ownership in the experiences they provide. Beyond a basic sense of responsibility, employees are more connected to the experience they are providing when they feel they have a hand in creating it. For strong company cultures and the strongest impact on employee engagement, leaders need to make employees feel safe in always doing the right thing.
Best of all, when your employees perform an act of kindness they experience an increase in oxytocin, the chemical that makes us feel warm and fuzzy. We even get it when hearing a story of generosity or when witnessing one. This releases oxytocin. It makes us want to be more generous. That is why storytelling and sharing all the great things your team members do for customers, and each other, is so important.
Organizations achieve greatness when employees are allowed to do unexpected things, show initiative and creative thinking, and can step outside the norm. That is when delightful, interesting, and amazing results occur.
The following is one of my favorite stories that happened years ago at the first business I opened (and still own today), John Robert’s Spa. It really defined the type of above and beyond organizational culture I want every employee to experience.
A client shared a story about the time she walked into one of our salons for her 1 p.m. manicure appointment. The receptionist said, “We have been trying to contact you all morning because the nail technician who was to do your manicure went home sick.” The client responded, “You had better find me someone who can do my nails because I have an important meeting this afternoon and my nails look horrible. I don’t care who it is, but you had better get someone.” A few minutes later the receptionist returned and said, “I apologize. Unfortunately, we have no one available to do your nails, but we called the salon a few doors away. They have an opening now, so we booked and paid for a manicure with them.”
Above and Beyond Is a Mentality
I have heard many frustrated leaders say, “We have a few employees who go above and beyond all the time for their customers and we have many who never seem to. The ones that don’t say the opportunity never presents itself.”
The truth of the matter is that everyone gets the same number of above and beyond customer service opportunities; the only difference is that some–the most engaged employees–see the opportunity and act on it, while others fail to see it. To build an above and beyond company culture, you must be proactive about creating awareness by offering continuous feedback, i.e., constantly advertising stories to employees across your entire company.
Five Steps to Creating an Above and Beyond Culture
- Empower employees with autonomy and confidence so they can aggressively go the extra mile without being second-guessed by management.
- Train employees to consistently recognize above and beyond opportunities that occur.
- Inspire them on how to think outside the box to provide exceptionally positive experiences for the customer.
- Acquire and document all above and beyond stories that happen in your organization.
- Advertise and recognize those stories and employees throughout your entire organization—daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually–making them a prominent part of your workplace culture.
Here is the crazy thing: You only have to do three of the five steps.
Steps 4 and 5 take care of steps 2 and 3. When you put systems in place to catch all the above and beyond stories (step 4) and then continuously celebrate and advertise them to everyone in your organization (step 5), you start training your employees on where the opportunities exist (step 2), and how to deliver above and beyond service (step 3). An increase in employee engagement levels and job satisfaction is virtually automatic. The more that happens, the more it gets recirculated and can become self-perpetuating. The increase in productivity becomes positive peer pressure–provided you keep documenting and celebrating.
The above and beyond culture with the highest levels of employee engagement starts with documenting every above and beyond story that you hear from someone in your company. You can’t just hope you find out about these stories; you must solicit them. For example, you need to have communication channels set up that ask and make it easy for employees and customers to share how someone went above and beyond for them. All these stories can be solicited and collected through email, mail, voicemails, social media, or where the customers check out.
Above and Beyond Central: The Master List
Every above and beyond story needs to be stored in one central place, so you can track that they have all been reshared company-wide and celebrated. From the master list, you can choose the best above and beyond stories of the month and quarter. Some successful companies give prizes to these winners, adding an extra touch of excitement and fun to their corporate culture and providing even more employee engagement.
Finally, out of the top stories chosen monthly or quarterly, create an award for the top above and beyond story of the year. For creating the strongest emotional connection amongst and between teams, this award should be voted on by all employees. A powerful employee engagement idea, this honor meets two objectives: First, it’s great for individual employee recognition regarding outstanding heroic service, and second, you are educating and advertising to all about the different opportunities along their employee journey, including opportunities for employees to make the extra effort needed to deliver world-class service and create happy customers to whom price is irrelevant.
Setting the Tone on Day One
During new employee orientation, share with them your top 10 all-time above and beyond stories. Going beyond job descriptions, this helps set the tone for and give them a strong sense of the type of customer-obsessed culture they are joining, including the highest employee engagement levels. It all but eliminates the chance of new hires becoming disengaged employees having a less than positive employee experience. Satisfied employees naturally translate to low turnover rates; employee well-being has a direct impact on employee life cycles.
When you embrace all of this, you will see a dramatic increase in the above and beyond stories your employees are executing and the real impact they are having on overall organizational success. And before you know it, your entire organization will be on a mission to constantly exceed customer expectations.
Episode 127 of the CSRev Podcast
6 Reasons Your Customer Experience Plummets When Your Business Skyrockets
This week’s episode is a webinar by John DiJulius, Chief Revolution Officer of The DiJulius Group, on how Nothing Ruins a Company’s Customer Experience Faster Than Rapid Growth
Explosive growth! It is the one thing every CEO and Entrepreneur wants, works for, and dreams about. However, if your company isn’t ready, it can be the worst thing for your organization. Remember the adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” It has put many successful companies out of business.
Rarely does a company go through rapid growth without having their customer and employee experience suffer significantly from:
✓ Compromised Hiring
✓ Fast-Tracking New Employee Training
✓ Employee Turnover Increasing Dramatically
✓ Customer Satisfaction and Customer Retention Dropping Significantly
✓ Systems not Buttoned up and Scalable
✓ A Clashing of Cultures