Lions, Tigers & Empowered Employees

We are constantly being interrupted – whether it’s by email messages, text messages, people needing something from you while you’re in the middle of something else. We have come to accept these interruptions, perhaps embrace them and not even recognize when we are being rude. I am going to share a story with you that has nothing to do with social media, which I’d argue is the number one interruptive medium.  My story has to do with an empowered employee who recognized a minor mistake resulting in a customer interruption and without having to call her boss, made a positive change. It happened recently at the Bronx Zoo, when I was paying for admission tickets. The employee in the 2×4 booth started her string of questions to me and then another employee barged into the ticket booth needing something and demanding this employee’s attention stat. The interruption lasted less than a minute. People interrupt conversations all the time, and this was the zoo, after all. So I didn’t think anything of it.  The employee turned back around and when I gave her my credit card to pay for the tickets, she gave me a heartfelt apology for the interruption and making me wait. And in a NY minute told me there’d be no charge. A free day at the zoo for a family of four. My family and I reacted like we won the lottery (we never win anything!). We weren’t even angry about the interruption, and here we were about $70 richer and heading for the lion cage. This Bronx Zoo employee made the call to handle a potential upset customer by going above and beyond, without having to get approval from her boss. That’s empowerment. That’s good customer relations. Think about the little unexpected actions that your employees can take to surprise your customers and keep them coming back for more.

– Diane Schwartz