Recently I spent a week on vacations with my wife and a couple friends. We took a cruise on Carnival Cruise lines to the Western Caribbean. Despite a slew of bad press I still believe cruises are one of the safest and most enjoyable ways to travel. During the cruise I was reminded of a few business principles that are too often forgotten.
Service: There is no replacement for great customer service. I didn’t say good service, I said great! The ship we were on had approximately 3,000 guests. However, the house keeping staff and each of our waiters always greeted us by our first names. The service was personal, it was friendly and it excellent. It reminded me that we need to do a better job of providing not just good, but great customer service.
Be Daring: Every night at dinner there was a different appetizer called DIDJA (Did you ever want to try?). Our waiter encouraged us to try the daring culinary creations. Over the week long trip I tried alligator fritters, frog legs, escargot and more. Some of the appetizers were delicious, others I wasn’t a big a fan of. Tasting new and unique foods was the highlight of our dining experience. Had we not been a little daring, we’d have missed out. The same goes for business; sometimes we need to take some risks and try something new. Employees should feel comfortable doing the same. Giving people a little latitude could create some unexpected, yet impressive results.
Disconnect: Traveling outside of the U.S. with little to no access to internet proved to be a nice break. For 7 days I didn’t carry a cell phone or log on a computer. A week of no phone calls or email was bliss. Business owners, managers and employees all need time to relax and recharge. Allow yourself, your employees and/or your co-workers chances to disconnect. People are generally more productive and less likely to get burned out.
Connect: You’re thinking “Wait, didn’t you just tell me to disconnect?” Often when we hear ‘connect’ we think of phone calls, email, texting, and technology. On our trip we connected with dozens of people through personal interaction. Interactions occurred during a bus riding through the jungles of Honduras or on a boat being ferried to the island of Grand Cayman. We interacted with people sitting near us at dinner or while lounging around the pool. We meet many staff members, allowing us to get to know people from all over the world. All of these interactions were personal conversation, handshakes and often hugs.
When at work, find more ways to connect. Connect with co-workers; learn more about the people around you. Look for opportunities to develop true partnerships that can mutually benefit all parties involved. Above all else, go out of your way to connect with customers. Customers are the lifeline of your business. Notice I said “connect” – emailing and posting to your Facebook wall is not the kind of connecting I’m talking about. When you connect with people personally they’ll be more likely to continue to do business with you.
Traveling is one of my greatest joys. I love seeing new places, meeting amazing people and building long lasting memories. Learning from my vacation was a wonderful added benefit. I’m already anticipating the next adventure, wherever that might be. In the meantime, hopefully a better job can be done while at work; making a job and a career, an experience in itself.