When it comes to customer service, everyone can be a leader. You do the right thing, because you know it’s the right thing to do. Others notice and admire you. With that in mind, what I’m about to share isn’t as much about customer service (although it could be) as it is about stepping up with the characteristics and traits that can make you a leader – someone others want to emulate and act like.
About two weeks ago, I was a guest at a customer appreciation event for long-time season ticket holders of the St. Louis Blues hockey organization. It was held at a beautiful venue with granite floors and amazing artwork. And, of course, there was plenty of food and drink. I happen to see my former salesperson, Kevin Parker, who was recently promoted to a management position.
Kevin always impressed me. I can see that he has what it takes to be a leader. After a quick conversation, I walked away to get some food. Along the way, I slipped on a wet spot on the floor. Water and fancy granite floors don’t mix well. I didn’t fall. I just lost my balance for a moment.
Two servers were standing near where I slipped. They noticed and smiled at me. I smiled back reassuring that I was okay. What they did next surprised me. They did… nothing. I thought they might grab one of the many napkins on the buffet table and wipe up the wet spot on the floor, but they didn’t. So I walked over to the buffet table to get napkins to do it myself. However, someone else beat me to it. Kevin, my former salesperson, had already grabbed a napkin off another table was wiping up the water off the floor.
Now wiping the floor wasn’t Kevin’s job, but it was the right thing to do, and he did it. That’s why he’s moving up in the organization. He’s a leader because he inherently knows what is right, and he acts on it.
This reminded me of something that happened in a professional NFL football game earlier that week. Dak Prescott is the rookie quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys who is making a name for himself as one of the top playmakers in the league. He won that game, but on this particular Sunday he missed a throw that caught the attention of millions. On the sidelines, he tossed an empty cup toward the trash can and missed. He then went over and picked up the trash and threw it away.
Now, that may not seem like a big deal, but it is. If you watch many of the players drinking from paper cups, rather than throw them away, they just throw them on the ground for one of the trainers to come by and pick up later. But not Dak Prescott. Some have come to the conclusion that this guy is not just a great athlete on the field, but a great person off the field, with the character and traits of a leader.
ESPN.com senior writer, Arash Markazi, caught Dak’s missed throw to the trashcan and posted it on Twitter with the message:
It may seem small but this video says a lot about Dak Prescott. pic.twitter.com/kzUNRKP5bb
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 20, 2016
Goes to Daks character. Does the right thing even when no one is looking
— CSA Citizen (@Genealogy123) November 21, 2016
small things say a lot about a person
— Ray Montgomery (@Sofisdad) November 21, 2016
Picking up trash is a little thing – especially when it’s your own trash. The paper cup just is a metaphor for qualities much larger than picking up trash. Leaders know that little things count. They don’t think about it. They don’t care if anyone is watching. They just do what’s right. That’s what Dak Prescott and Kevin Parker did. They just did what was right. When no one asked them to.
When they didn’t know, or even care, if someone was looking. That’s what true leaders do. And, that’s what true customer service leaders do!
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For contact information, visit www.hyken.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken