Everything I learned about service started with my first job working at a grocery store during summers and holidays while I was in high school.
The store’s mantra was providing “fast, friendly service”, and everyone practiced it with enthusiasm.
- Baggers, or “courtesy clerks”, efficiently packed groceries and carried them out to people’s cars then jogged back in. No tipping was allowed.
- Cashiers knew produce codes by heart and whizzed the items from the belt to the bagging area with lightning speed.
- People working in the various departments of the store would bend over backward to help customers find what they need and always with a smile.
On late shifts, I sometimes had to collect large bags of trash and carry them out to a dumpster. It got ugly when the bags were leaking fluid of some kind from the deli department.
This work is a far cry from what I’m doing now – helping CEOs, executives, and emerging leaders learn how to grow and expand their businesses.
Still, the experiences at this store are the foundation for my approach to innovation and serving others.
Innovating doesn’t always require a specific process, timeline, or education. Sometimes, all it needs is the drive to figure out how to best serve others.
I didn’t always have all the answers for customers at the grocery store, but they appreciated the effort and the alternative solutions we would provide them.
The pressure to provide fast, friendly service at every moment is what helped everyone working in the store to be innovating all the time.
It’s the same for any business: If you are committed to providing a great experience for your customers, you will find yourself innovating all the time. This is what I’ve always believed, and it’s why I’m so passionate about helping companies innovate faster by identifying their innovation drivers.