The value of a good experience cannot be underestimated and we recently had cause to be reminded, rather forcefully, of this truth.

To provide a bit of background: we live in a coastal area of northern NSW. Due to the impacts of restrictions imposed on travel between states, we decided to set out on a journey with our caravan. Our goal was to explore parts of Queensland as some of these destinations were, to use a popular term, “on our Bucket List”.

We were also conscious of the effect of travel restrictions on many regional areas with falling visitor numbers meaning businesses struggling to remain open. So, we were expecting to encounter atmospheres and behaviours associated with depression, anger or despair. But, on the contrary, our travel experiences were enhanced and made so memorable (in very good ways) by the many incredible attitudes of gratitude we encountered.

The staff and owners of businesses we chose to visit and support with our custom (now that’s a terminology not often used these days) were, in general, so grateful for our business. We were met with smiles, warm welcomes and such cooperative behaviour to ensure our customer experience was pleasurable and memorable.

There is a culture among travellers of promoting great experiences; “you must stay here”, “you should visit this”, “you’ll get the best service at this place”. These endorsements, we found, inspired us to go further, see more, seek out more memorable experiences. In turn, the results of our own good (and in so many cases, great) experiences had us promoting these businesses to anyone seeking advice on where to get a good meal, good coffee, places to visit and places to stay.

However, in one instance, our expectation of a fantastic experience was potentially buried by a not-so-pleasant experience.

We had been researching the most suitable caravan parks in a particular town. Our decision on suitability was important due to the length of time we needed to stay in this location. Our initial enquiry by phone call was met by laughter and a warm welcome.

The person who answered the phone was laughing, yet very attentive to our enquiry. When we asked what was causing her joyous behaviour, she was apologetic but explained that a colleague (one of the groundskeepers) had just walked in to the office wearing a “silly hat” with the intention of bringing some fun and laughter to the administration team. She apologised to us, unnecessarily, as we welcomed the laughter and atmosphere of friendly behaviour. Not surprisingly we chose this caravan park as our place to stay.

Unfortunately, our arrival at this caravan park couldn’t have been a more opposite experience.

The reception on the day we arrived was from another staff member. We were met by a gruff, no nonsense, authority type who barked out the rules and regulations – we must keep the dog on a leash at all times, we must only set up within the allocated area, we must abide by noise regulations, we must read and abide by all park rules and regulations and we must vacate the park by 10:00am on the day of departure… no later!

Although our initial response to this very negative reception was to get back in the car and search for somewhere else to stay, we made ourselves take a moment to find compassion and try for a more understanding response. This did take a big effort to focus on positivity and we are conscious that many others may well have chosen to simply move on. Our choice that day was to dismiss the behaviour of one “grumpy” individual and focus on enjoying the experience – which we very much did.

It was a timely reminder that it is so easy to sabotage potential customer experiences by projecting personal frustrations, anger or negative attitudes. And that those first few moments of engagement are vital to ensure positive outcomes, both for your staff and for your customer. As we approach 2021, with many of the challenges from 2020 still in play, it is probably worth revisiting this area with your staff to ensure they are doing all in their power to create that positive experience from the outset.

The workshops we conduct at Redman Training & Development address the situations behind these behaviours and provide strategies to support positive outcomes. Our small-group or one-on-one training can be customised to suit your industry, staff experience, staff specialities and much more. Take a moment to visit our website to explore the services available and touch base to see how we are able to add value to your business in 2021.