Last Wednesday evening, Ryan, the operating partner of our Brampton GlowZone 360, and I held a staff meeting with the shift supervisors. There are eight of them and the oldest is 20. Each of them has keys to our building and is responsible for opening, closing, and everything in-between. After going through a lot of the operating processes and procedures that keep the facility ship-shape, we focused our attention on the guest experience. Don’t get me wrong, having a clean facility with toilet paper in the washrooms, fully stocked redemption area, age-appropriate music, etc., are very important to the overall experience. But what is vitally important is the experience the guest has with the staff. You and your staff can turn a grumpy customer into a champion or lose a long-time guest in an instant.
“What do you do when a guest tells you their experience is not going as well as expected,” I asked the group. “Give ‘em the pickle!”, Krystal replied. That comment created confused looks on the rest of the staff’s faces – maybe much like the look you currently have. “Give them the pickle?”, Javon repeated as a question. I was actually really impressed with Krystal. Last October, she was working one Wednesday night (that’s when I come in to experience our guests having a great time in our facility). I was working on a lesson plan for the Attractions Operations course I teach for Durham College as part of the Destination Management program. The topic was about how service and operations went hand-in-hand. Give ‘em the Pickle was the war cry of Bob Farrell, an entrepreneur who in 1963 opened his first old fashioned ice cream parlour. He grew the business to over 130 locations before selling in 1985. In those 20+ years NOT ONE of his restaurants failed. And that is because he never thought he was in the restaurant business. He believed he was in the people business.
After quickly explaining to the staff the concept of Give ‘em the Pickle, we started to talk about what our “pickles” could be. I started by talking about the grey realm that customer service falls into. There are no black and white rules when it comes to making guests happy and that is because each visitor has a different expectation. We really need our shift managers to understand that we have empowered them to do what is required to ensure every guest leaves happy. They don’t own the place, so they felt a little hesitant about providing our visitors with added value items, extra games, small treats from the redemption area or free passes to come back again. I put it into perspective by talking about the “cost” of a guest leaving after a great experience vs. a bad one.
Ryan and I explained to them that it “costs” us next to nothing to provide added value at our location. If a couple is on a date and has paid for mini golf, we encourage all of our staff to set them up for a three-game arcade challenge to extend the fun. If a parent/child paid for laser tag and the child was too scared to finish the game, it costs us nothing to provide them with a game of mini golf or a $10 arcade card to make up for the experience they missed. It costs us pennies to give away a small redemption item to a person celebrating a special occasion. The benefit of all of that is we have created champions who will return and tell their friends to come. On the flip side, if we didn’t meet someone’s expectations and didn’t do anything to try to rectify it, the “cost” is lost revenue from them not returning, telling their friends about the bad experience, and perhaps telling the world through reviews.
Bob’s lifelong goal of service excellence started with a typed letter he received from a customer. It came to him and him only. Nowadays, with a few short keystrokes, the whole world can know if you had a great time or a bad time. I found out at that meeting that our staff at GlowZone 360 follow our reviews, and our replies to them, very closely. They love it when their name is mentioned in a positive review and reach out to us to talk about a negative review if they know they were working when it came in. A few of the staff have made it their goal to get their name mentioned in good reviews the most, and we are actively encouraging that because it means better guest experience all around. If you are not currently keeping on top of your reviews, you are missing out on an incredible opportunity to connect to everyone who is thinking about visiting your location. Our belief is if someone has taken the time to explain why they had a good time or bad time, it is our duty to acknowledge it and let them know we appreciate it.
I spend a bit of time each evening and on the weekends, replying to reviews where comments were left. Responding to good reviews is pretty easy and fun. Responding to negative reviews is vitally important and often takes a bit more time because we want to make sure that we know more about the situation before responding. Regardless of the situation, a person who leaves a negative review believes it is the fault of the business. Our job is to assure them that we have taken their feedback to heart and are actively working to improve our processes so that other guests won’t have the same experience. How you respond to a negative review sets the tone for your organization in the eyes of future customers. Below is a recent example of both a good and negative review.
2 days ago
I just wanted to share my amazing experience I had yesterday. I had an intimate birthday for my son and a few friends. The evening started a little rough not anything that was in control of the establishment, but there were a few kids that were being rough with our kids in the laser tag. We brought it to your sweet amazing employee Kalon who came out often to give us updates and actually removed one kid who was aggressive with our kids (pushed and punched them). Kalon went above and beyond to make sure my son had an amazing experience with his friends and let him and his friends redo laser tag (this made there whole year) Kalon even let my son pick something small from the redemption as a little gift. I just want to let everyone know how amazing Kalon is..he is so patient, gentle and compassionate. He has such great customer service I was just blown away. It’s hard to find good customer service these days and wow did he exceed and go above and beyond. All the staff is great here but Kalon stood out to us. I would definitely come back and recommend this establishment to family and Friends and Not to mention the food was amazing too 🙂 kalon if your reading this thank you from the bottom of our hearts for an amazing experience YOU ROCK!!!
GlowZone 360 Reply
23 hours ago
Lisa, like Kalon made your son’s day, this review made Kalon’s day!!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. While it is unfortunate that the event started out rough, we are thrilled to hear that Kalon ensured you got the experience you deserved. We already shared this with Kalon and will be posting it for the entire staff to read so they remember what a difference they can make. We look forward to seeing you again soon!
1 week ago
Staff is lovely, games are great fun however, for family friendly entertainment the music is very uncalled for. Young children playing mini golf with music that is dropping f-bombs is not appropriate
GlowZone 360 Reply
23 hours ago
Rebecca, sorry for the delay in response. Our music service is not supposed to play explicit lyrics and we wanted to investigate prior to responding. We do change the style of music in the evenings after 9pm as we transition to an older crowd, but you should never have to be subjected to profanity. The issue has been resolved and staff will be more closely monitoring song selections and listening to ensure it does not happen again.
The great review about Kalon came in just days after the shift manager meeting. Kalon is not a shift manager but was working the front desk while the meeting was on and heard all about giving them the pickle. That night I challenged him to engage with our guests more, giving them unexpected extras that would turn their great experience into an incredible one. I watched him challenge all of the guests in the arcade area to an air hockey tournament where the winner received a free $5 arcade card and then saw him get three different people on dates to play the basketball and racing games to continue the competition from the round of mini golf. One of the couples purchased a $10 arcade card after and another purchased a $20 arcade card. The cost of what he did was zero, the immediate benefit was an additional $30 and the long-term benefit is priceless – especially since he now feels empowered to “Give ‘em the Pickle” as evidenced by the glowing review above. We share these successes with all of our staff so they all understand what a difference they can make.
I highly encourage you to click to watch the four-minute “Give ‘em the Pickle!” teaser video and then sit down with your team to determine what your pickle is. What I love most about the video is that although the outfits people are wearing in it are dated, the concepts of great service still ring true today. And if you need help figuring out how to find and respond to your reviews, please reach out to me. I am no tech genius, but I will do what I can to help.
Have a great day!