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"Why Choose Between Fun and Content When You Can Have Both"

Great Employee Experience: Which came first the employee, the customer, the chicken or the egg?

Unlike that chicken and egg thing this one is pretty simple. 

Who came first…..the employee or the customer?

The employee silly; even if you were the only employee there was no customer and no company without you.

So then why do we put so much emphasis on the customer? Why not put it on the employee. After all great employees arise out of great employee experiences. And great employee experiences will almost always lead to great and fun customer experiences.

So how do you make for a great employee experience:

  1. Listen to their ideas
  2. Allow for implementation of their ideas
  3. Let them manage their ideas (with your guidance and input of course)

Give this a try. Watch engagement increase. Watch employee morale bloom. Watch the customer experience soar.

What’s wrong with this picture and your business!

The picture above is the Universe Dining Room on the Carnival Destiny. I was aboard the ship last week. If you’ve cruised you know that often times the dining room staff perform for their guests. It’s usually where you get to see the true personality come out. And Destiny has quite a few servers who like to seduce the ladies.

But there’s something very wrong with this picture. Very wrong.

Do you know what it is?

Give up?

We’ve become a society that spends more time trying to capture the experience rather than be a part of it. We’re more worried about taking pictures that we’ll forget about in two weeks than being in pictures taken by others. We’re more worried about telling the story to our Twitter and Facebook friends rather than being part of the story.

And what does that mean to you as a business or a customer?

If you’re an employee stop letting people observe. Pull them into the picture.

And if you’re a customer, put down your technology and be a part of the fun.

The next night they played Hot Hot Hot…..and I’d say 50% of the dining room was having a good time. I have no pictures of that. But I’m in a whole lot. Now to start surfing Facebook to un-tag them.

Fun places to work. Remember the Fotomat Store?



It’s the smallest United States Post Office (so the sign says). It’s down in Alligator Alley in Florida. It kinda reminded me of the Fotomat store. Are you old enough to remember the Fotomat store?

I worked in a Fotomat store for a brief period of time; about two weeks; if that long. Being confined in a space not bigger than the picture above was enough to drive me crazy. And when the senior citizen hit the building, at 5 mph fortunately, it was more than enough to say “Outta here!”

But it got me thinking about all the different places people work. They work in coffee shops, bars, hotel lobbies, parks, poolside, in traditional offices, home offices, their car, on buses, on trains, on the beach. People work above ground and below ground. I can go on and on.

What’s the worst location you have worked? The best? The oddest? The most fun? The one that energized you most? The silliest? Where do you work now? Where do you wish your office or workspace could be located?

Share some of your thoughts.

And the INCONVENIENCE at America’s Most Convenient(?) Bank continues

Below is a copy of an email sent to Joe Culos, SVP of Something at TD Bank

Dear Joe,

Perhaps you’ll remember me. We spoke last month about all of my inconveniences and bank errors since transferring four accounts to TD Bank; my favorite being cash deposits that were held and frozen by your “back office”; the people that no one outside the back office are allowed to contact voice-to-voice. Well the stupidity and inconvenience continues.

TD Bank either has the most sophisticated banking system, the most screwed-up banking system, Training and Customer Service Departments that need to get their act together or people who are just worried about volume and numbers; and not customers. I’ll let you choose the scripted answer.

But since you’re the Sr. VP of I Might Actually Have A Clue of What is Going On I am now turning to you. I have a simple request. I want my business bank statements mailed to my PO Box, not my home address. Is this really that hard of a request? The Store Manager didn’t know how to do it when she opened the account; although she assured me it was set up. In November and December I spoke to two different Customer Service Reps who assured me it was changed. Still came to my house in December and …………..Surprise!!!! Guess what appeared in my home mailbox this weekend.

Here is all the information you need Joe. Perhaps we can get it right this time and let this be last the inconvenience from America’s Most Convenient, Uh INCONVENIENT, Bank.

Account Name & Number:  (removed from this post for identity theft reasons)

Physical Address:  (removed from this post for identity theft reasons)

Mailing Address: (removed from this post for identity theft reasons)

Joe, I don’t need a phone call from you with apologies and platitudes. We’re beyond that. I want results. Is this really so difficult that someone at your level within the organization needs to be contacted?

I hope the rest of your week involves dealing with happier customers.

Rich DiGirolamo

Reason for Refund: We Suck!

My last two attempts to get a package delivered overnight via the United States Postal Service were unsuccessful. They never got to the recipient the next day. Fortunately in both cases it wasn’t the end of the world.

This morning I went to get a refund for one of those packages. The clerk was doing something on the computer and talking out loud when he apparently came to the “Reason for Refund” field on his screen. 

“We suck!” were the words that came out of his mouth.

I laughed. And thought true, yes you guys do suck. But then I  thought………….

Imagine if “WE SUCK” was an option. Imagine if the employee chose that option. Imagine if someone up the USPS food chain read that option. Imagine if employees were given that option as a way to express their frustration with poor service by their employer; about being the ones on the front lines who have to deal with unhappy customers like me (and I was a nice unhappy customer).

Imagine if We Suck was chosen more often than Failed Service Delivery?

Do you think it would get the attention of people who matter? Do you think they would recognize that they are providing a poor customer experience and an even worse employee experience?

The more I think about it the more I think the WE SUCK option might have huge benefit for a lot of businesses. It would definitely be a Recess from the norm.

Please take a Recess from that type of thinking (and talk)!

  • Yesterday I called to make an appointment for my mother to see a new doctor. The first question was what was her insurance. The next comment was we don’t accept that.
  •  I get calls regularly from organizations wanting to hire me to fire up their team/group/association; to get them thinking about creating a fun thriving working or meeting environment. The number of calls that start out with “I know you probably cost a lot but we have no budget or a very small budget.”
  • I was just forwarded a copy of an email from an incoming Governor to State Employees. Today was this Governor’s Inauguration. The first communication out of the Governor’s Office is I’m looking forward to working with you; although there will be sacrifices.

And this to me is what is wrong with our world. Too many conversations start out with why things won’t work or what we don’t have. We need to take a Recess from this type of talk – once and for all.

So let me put it another way……

Dear Doctor,

I called to get my mother’s pain issue addressed. How about we talk about that first? Cuz the pain my mother has is worth paying you in cash for an overpriced $400 fifteen minute office visit. I didn’t call to talk insurance. I called seeking medical attention. Let’s have that conversation first. 

Dear Meeting Planner, HR Professional, Business Owner, or Company VP,

What a consultant charges is nothing in comparison to the results you might receive if you actually followed through on their ideas. Let’s have that conversation first and then work in partnership to come up with a fair and equitable arrangement for all. And who knows, you might get me on a day when I’m feeling charitable?

Dear Governor,

Couldn’t the first email from you have been 100% positive, encouraging and engaging? Everyone knows the entire country is sacrificing right now!

I know, not radical comments or ideas; but ideas that need to be pounded into people’s heads regularly. Got any heads that need pounding?

My three step employee policy manual

Hey Kids!

2011 came and went. Happy New Year! So how are those resolutions going for ya?

I still think the whole resolution thing is pointless and just a setup for failure. My reason: Most people are going to take the same approach they took every other time they failed. It’s like people who follow any diet plan. They tell you the diet “works” and that’s why they’re doing it again. My response is “Why are you still fat if the diet worked?” The diet did NOT work if you couldn’t figure out how to make it work in a way that involved long term weight loss. But go ahead; have a ball again this year; doing it the same way.

Last night I was watching Jay Leno interview Ron Howard. Now for those of you reading this who are members of Toastmasters, you would have had a field day counting all the ums that Ron used. Which goes to prove one thing; you can be an interesting person and provide great entertainment even if you’re not the most polished speaker. Now I’m not picking on Toastmasters; I was a member of a club for a long time; but people spent more time counting ums and ahs instead of helping people become better communicators by focusing on interesting stories and relevant information they could share.

Ron talked about a family tradition for the new year where they sit around a fire and write down on small sheets of paper all the things they’re going to change or get rid of in the coming year. They then tossed them into the fire. Jay asked Ron what was on his papers. Ron’s response was the same things he puts on the paper every year.

Okay Rich, where are you going with this?

People focus on the wrong things too often (immediate weight loss, not long term; ums and ahs instead of killer info). Last week I found myself in an interesting discussion with two managers. One of them, half jokingly, made a comment that her resolution was to get her staff to spend more time working and less time on Facebook and texting. “We have a policy against it” she shared.

Woo-Hoo! You have a freakin policy! I bit my tongue from using words like moron, idiot and out-of-touch.

The other chimed in and proceeded to whine about sloppy work of his employees and seeming more interested in their personal business.

Why don’t you have a policy about providing a great employee experience? Why don’t you have a policy that you’ll provide interesting and challenging work so people won’t have time to play on Facebook or text their every move?

I would want my employees getting each other excited about projects. I would want them getting creative and building a better product; huddling off in a corner doing great things. And since I’m friends with some of those people on Facebook; I would rather not be reading they are picking their nose and scratching their butt because work sucks! Yes, I did read one with those words – and laughed!

When I designed the Talents Recess activity in the RECESSitation Pack it was to help leaders & managers find out who is not being utilized in a way in which they could provide much more value to the organization?

Why don’t you have a policy that promises the talents possessed by your staff will be utilized in a way that will knock the socks off the CEO, stockholders, board or whomever else you’re trying to impress.

Every organization has a fun, creative accountant. Find him or her. See what he or she can offer your product development team.

Employee policies are written as a deterrent to bad behavior. Why are we even considering people will be bad? Most policies immediately limit people’s thinking and don’t allow for new ideas.

 So here it is…….for 2011…….the only employee policy manual you need:

  1.  The company promises to provide a great employee experience. Please tell us how we can make it even better. This is not lip service.
  2. The company promises to provide you with interesting and challenging work. We really do want your ideas to make this happen. This is not lip service.
  3. The company will find out what secret talents you possess and we will utilize them to ensure 1 & 2 are being met.

Easy. Simple. Got the guts to live by it? Ready to do the work?

See you in two weeks.