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The Streets are Rough!

NPIS_cover_finalThe following is a guest post by Chip Bell. Chip’s latest book, The 9 ½ Principles of Innovative Service, uses stories, anecdotes, and quotes to inspire and instruct. If you’ve gotten to know Chip through one of his previous books or by attending one of his seminars, then you’re familiar with his extensive repertoire of stories—like this one:

Karl Wallenda is the most famous aerialist in history. As the senior member of the Flying Wallendas, his antics on the high wire were as inventive as they were death defying. For years the family team was a main attraction of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. In 1974, at the age of sixty nine, Karl broke a world skywalk distance record of 1,800 feet, a record that stood until 2008, when his great grandson, Nik Wallenda, completed a 2,000-foot skywalk at the same location. His favorite line: “Being on the wire is living; everything else is just waiting.” When asked why he so loved life on the high wire, he cleverly responded, “The streets are rough.”

Wallenda’s line is a metaphor for the state of customer service today. The streets are competitively rough–crowded with too many ho-hum, pretty good, average service providers.  It makes differentiation as rough as the cobblestone streets in Wallenda’s hometown of Magdeburg, Germany. The alternative is innovative service—experiences that take customer’s breath away much like the Flying Wallendas seven-person pyramid circus act on the wire.

But, while there is far less traffic on the high wire of innovative service than the streets of okay service, its performance takes front line employees empowered and willing to take risks. It requires a spirit of experimentation born of a clear and present desire to be distinctive. It takes encouraging the frontline to pay attention to the scenography of service delivery—all the sights, sounds, smells, touches, and tastes of the experience that communicate congruence and sensory pleasure. It requires a think outside the box mentality that results in inventive actions and creative practices. And, it involves random acts of generosity from a sincere greeting to a warm farewell.

How can you walk the tight rope of innovative service and avoid the rough streets of average service? Read The 9 ½ Principles of Innovative Service as your inspirational instruction manual!

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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