How to Speed-Train Seasonal Employees

Tis the season for…seasonal employees.  This time of year temporary employees swell payroll rosters, even if only for a matter of weeks.  When time is of the essence (or is nonexistent), how does your business train these new recruits to be an effective extension of your brand during the boom of commerce that engulfs November and December?

As noted in my most recent book Leading the Starbucks Way, execution on the branded/consistency dimension is reflected in comments from customers.  Take Jenny, who notes, “When I travel, I try to spot a Starbucks. It feels like you are connecting with a little bit of home wherever you are in the worldIt carries a set of expectations for products, feelings, and the way you are treated.”  Even if a business operates from a single location, the issue is the same: Will I have a comparable experience the next time I visit? Will the expectations set today be matched or exceeded tomorrow? Or will I have a random, unreliable collection of encounters that erode the concept of the brand?

To deliver consistent experiences at Starbucks, the leadership offers a defined service vision that describes what needs to be achieved during service experiences. Additionally, it provides four customer service behaviors that help partners understand how the customer service vision is to be accomplished. The Starbucks customer vision statement reads: “We create inspired moments in each customer’s day.”  To accomplish this objective, partners are encouraged to focus on the following customer service behaviors:

• Anticipate

• Connect

• Personalize

• Own

In essence, the leadership offers partners the desired service experience outcome (“inspired moments”) and the key actions needed to deliver it. For example, if a barista reads the customer’s need state, the barista can anticipate, connect, personalize, and own that customer’s experience to create an inspired moment for him. To be more specific, if a customer looks rushed, the barista can anticipate and take responsibility for delivering an accurate and expedited beverage with a brief but personal moment of connection (something as simple as a genuine smile). By contrast, if a customer is a regular who enjoys conversation, the partner can make a connection by remembering his drink or calling him by name and taking responsibility for personalizing the drink or conversation in a way that produces meaningful, if not inspired, moments in his day.

As your team grows this season and in preparation for those to come, consider the wisdom of developing a similarly short-and-sweet rubric to serve as your employees’ roadmap to replicating the service experience you deem optimal for your business.  Doing so will help your seasonal helpers remember and embrace your standard of service.  Equally important, it will reinforce for those who have been long-time contributors to your service reputation what will (or will not) keep customers coming back in the New Year.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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