Tommy Spaulding is the NY Times Best Selling author of It's Not Just Who You Know and The Heart Led Leader. On this episode of The Jody Maberry Show, Tommy talks about the important of sending handwritten notes, why Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People does not go far enough, and how opening a restaurant fits his mission.
On a recent trip to Nashville, I stopped at Dave Ramsey’s headquarters to visit Eric Anthony, the producer of the Entreleadership podcast. I had met Eric at the Podcast Movement conference last year and had worked with him a bit when Lee Cockerell was on the Entreleadership podcast. So I stopped in to say Hello and spent time chatting with Eric and Ken Colemen, who hosts the show. While I was there, Dave Ramsey was recording his radio show, and a couple was waiting in the lobby to do the Debt Free Scream. Do you know about the debt free scream?
I didn’t want to miss a good debt free scream, so I hung out in the lobby to watch. The couple did a short interview with Dave and finish with the scream to announce their freedom. When they were done, Dave Ramsey came out into the lobby to say hello to them in person. Since I was in the lobby, I had the chance to meet Dave.
This was not the first time I met Dave Ramsey, though.
I have paid attention to Dave Ramsey for years. Even when I did not take his advice, I was paying attention.
Dave Ramsey helped transform my kid’s attitudes and actions towards money through Financial Peace Junior. My wife and I are students of Financial Peace University, I have listened to Dave's radio show, and read a couple of his books.
Although I don’t remember how I heard Dave Ramsey was looking for volunteers for a Seattle event, when I heard he was looking for volunteers to help his team I did not hesitate for a moment.
I have organized many events; concerts, Sea Stories, puppet shows, Hispanic Heritage Celebration, and the Scandinavian Cold and Flu Festival. Working as a volunteer for Dave’s event would be an opportunity to experience, first hand and behind the scenes, how professionals put on an event.
I submitted a volunteer application and was delighted to be accepted as part of the team.
The evening of the Living a Legacy event, ten volunteers gathered before the event and received instruction from Dave’s team on our assignments for the evening. I was selected to work the Back Stage Experience, where I got to meet Dave and his lovely daughter, Rachel Ramsey Cruze.
I learned plenty from hearing Dave talk to the small backstage crowd. Of course, I learned watching Dave on stage. But the biggest lesson I learned was from a member of Dave’s team.
Before the event, before the volunteers had done any work, Pete, one of Dave’s team members, gathered us together to explain how the evening would unfold.
As Pete explained the importance of the volunteers greeting guests as they enter, he said “The first few minutes set the tone. If not, Dave will not be able to connect with the audience”.
Listen to that again. “The first few minutes set the tone. If not, Dave will not be able to connect with the audience.
Imagine if we all viewed customer service that way.
What if we took responsibility to set a tone to ensure anyone in our organization will connect with the customer?
How would you change the way you answer the phone?
How would you act when a customer interrupts when you are busy?
How would you treat the opportunity of being face to face with a customer?
What if your biggest role was to make sure the next person is able to connect with the customer. Let’s take a doctor’s office. The receptionist sets the tone for a nurse to make a connection with the customer. The nurse sets the tone for the doctor. This makes front line the most important part of an organization.
In your case, front line could be the person who answers the phone. The person who greets people at the door, or checks people in as they arrive.
Once we can connect with customers we can build relationships.
Once we build relationships, then we can get work done.
Perhaps you have heard me mention that I used to be a park ranger. During my eight years as a Park Ranger, only once did I see an event that shocked everyone who saw it. Children gasped. Parents turned their heads. A baby cried.
You wouldn't believe me if I told you that a Park Ranger caused the commotion.
The shocking event happened at the end of an interpretive hike on a trail in the Little Spokane River Natural Area of Riverside State Park. Twenty kids and their parents joined Park Ranger Joseph Felgenhauer and me for a hike along the meandering river.
Ranger Felgenhauer led the group using words to guide their steps through the forest. He talked about trees. He talked about the river. He discussed the native history of the area. He pointed out signs of wildlife. He encouraged kids to touch leaves, trees, rocks, and bugs.
He explained the value of connecting to the natural world.
At the end of the hike, as we approached the parking area, he pointed out deer droppings to the kids. He explained how to tell what type of animal the scat had come from. Ranger Felgenhauer then reached down, picked up two deer droppings, and popped them in his mouth.
“It tastes nutty” was all Ranger Felgenhauer said about it before leading the group down the short trail to the parking area as he finished his interpretive hike.
No one in attendance heard another word after “nutty”. The crowd was still buzzing with what they had seen as they climbed into mini-vans and SUVs.
Here is what the crowd did not know.
For several weeks, Ranger Felgenhauer and I had it on our calendar to do an interpretive hike with a group of school kids. Left up to me, I would have conducted the hike based on my knowledge and experience in that area of the park.
Ranger Felgenhauer took a different approach. Joseph is a champion interpreter and he would not give an interpretive walk without knowing every turn and curve that his guests would walk. He wanted to see what they would see before they saw it, so he could tell a story about it.
The morning of the scheduled hike, Joseph and I had visited the Natural Are where the hike would be. We walked the trail and Joseph took note of interesting trees, plants, and rocks. He planned what he would say at each viewpoint along the river. He paid special attention to coyote scat alongside the trail, knowing it would present an opportunity for a story.
When the kids arrived we lead them on the predetermined route along the river. Ranger Felgenhauer hit each practiced point right on queue. He stirred enthusiasm in the kids and answered every question.
At the coyote scat, Ranger Felgenhauer had each kid examine it. He explained what you can learn from scat; what the coyote ate and how long ago the animal had been there.
Finally, towards the end of the hike, Ranger Felgenhauer discovered the deer scat under a young Ponderosa Pine tree. The kids leaned in to hear what then Ranger would teach them.
And then Joseph ate deer droppings. It was something that none of the kids, or their parents, will forget.
Joseph Felgenhauer and I worked together only a few months. I left Riverside State Park for another park and soon after Joseph moved on to another career. Even after I left, the way Joseph conducted the interpretive hike stuck with me.
Joseph knew knowledge does not have the same impact as preparation. Preparation was the key to delivering a great experience to families who took time out of their day to go on a walk with us.
Joseph did not just lead a hike and talk about what showed up before us. Each stop was a deliberate effort to educate the kids. Each viewpoint had been pre-selected to offer the best opportunity for a story. Interesting trees and large rocks had been chosen as highlights because they would create the most curiosity from the kids.
And the coyote scat played into the story of the day. It offered an educational stop and made the kids consider what they can learn from scat.
It played right into Joseph’s finale of eating deer dropping.
You see, the finale was deliberate, just like the rest of the hike. Joseph knew by doing something that would WOW the kids they would remember the hike. The precise spot and timing of that event had been planned.
Earlier in the morning, when we had walked the trail, Joseph had sprinkled Raisinets on the ground under the pine tree.
Ranger Joseph Felgenhauer knew how to deliver a memorable customer experience. Jeff Noel talks about going the extra inch beyond what customers expect. For Joseph Felgenhauer, the extra inch was as simple a couple of raisinettes.
Joseph Felgenhauer taught us that preparation is the key to delivering a memorable customer experience to your customers. You can prepare like a park ranger, too. Here are the three steps you can learn from Joseph to deliver some WOW to your customers;
Jeff Noel introduced me to the idea of going the extra inch, but I am so taken by it I am going to adopt this idea. Isn’t it encouraging to know you don’t have to go an extra mile to delight people? All it takes is an extra inch. And we can all stretch one more inch, right? One inch is all that separates you from the competition. And when you go the extra inch enough times, you are a foot ahead of everyone around you.
Preparation is key to show you have mastered your message.
I know what question you probably want to ask me, so I am going to go ahead and answer it. No, Ranger Felgenhauer did not tell the group that it was raisenettes he ate. Everyone went home thinking he had eaten deer droppings.
Recently, I visited the Burke Museum at the University ofWashington. Although the museum is full of fascinating fossils, one important piece that is missing is the Manis Mastodon. The Manis Mastodon is not at the BurkeMuseum because the University of Washington missed anopportunity with the way they answered the phone.
You could be missing an opportunity with the voicemail greetingon your phone. The often overlooked voicemail greeting is thesecret to getting more attention.
In this episode, we examine the elements of a great outgoingmessage and how it gets you more attention. Jeff Noel presents theelements of a proper voicemail greeting.